ATHENS, Dec. 21 (Xinhua) -- Greece and the European Union are standing by the refugees, trying to ease their pain until they return to their homeland, Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos told a group of unaccompanied refugee minors on Friday.
"I want to reassure you that until these tragic conditions that made you leave your country and your families end, Greece and the Greek society will embrace you with warmth and consider you its own children," Pavlopoulos said at the Greek parliament, welcoming the children with other Greek officials and European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides.
"Do not judge the history and Europe's culture by the leaderships of EU state-members that have fallen short of the circumstances... Judge Europe and the EU through Greece, and be sure that each Greek and every true European sympathizes with your tragedy and also stands by you to share your pain, but most of all to ease as much as possible its repercussions," said the Greek leader, according to an e-mailed press statement.
At the end of November this year, there were 3,786 unaccompanied children registered in Greece, according to the latest official statistics released by the National Center of Social Solidarity. The number includes 301 minors who were escorted by adults who were not their legal guardians, therefore separated from their families.
Data from the EU and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) showed that 94 percent of these unaccompanied minors were male and the 9 percent were below the age of 14.
Thirty-two percent of this group of refugees and migrants were from Afghanistan, 30 percent from Pakistan and 12 percent from Syria.
Despite significant progress in the past three years since the mass influx of refugees and migrants, Greek authorities acknowledge that there are still shortcomings in the accommodation of people in need, including minors.
Over one million people landed on Greek shores since 2015 and most continued their journey to other European countries. After the closure of borders along the Balkan corridor some 60,000 refugees and migrants have been stranded in Greece. Most have submitted bids for asylum.