Nottingham

Refugee children in Kos held in 'medieval' conditions

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Media captionThe refugees are being brought to the island by people-traffickers

A British woman who has been helping refugees on the Greek island of Kos has said it is "horrific" that children are being held in prison cells.

Rachel Miller, 39, from Nottingham, has travelled to the island with donations from Britain to help with the crisis.

She said she has seen child refugees being held in cells in conditions she describes as "medieval".

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said it was working to help the children.

Mrs Miller, a former social worker who specialised in child exploitation and trafficking, decided to volunteer after hearing about the refugee crisis in the news.

Image caption This five-day-old baby from Afghanistan arrived on Kos on a dangerously overloaded boat

She first visited Kos in August, using her family's holiday money, and came across refugee children being held in prison cells.

The children have often arrived on the island alone, Mrs Miller said.

The Greek authorities have said they are keeping the children in cells for their own safety.

But Mrs Miller, who has returned to Kos this week ahead of a four-tonne shipment of donations she has organised to help the refugees, said: "It's medieval. Children shouldn't be in prison.

Image caption The Greek coastguard rescues a boat full of people off Kos

"We're in 2015, in Europe. That's not humanity."

About 7,000 people are arriving illegally in the Greek islands every day from countries including Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Many are coming from Turkey via makeshift dinghies.

'Seriously below standard'

On Friday, a BBC Inside Out crew saw the Greek coastguard rescuing a boatful of people.

Mrs Miller said other survivors told her they had seen the bodies of a woman and two children out at sea.

"You have to be desperate to do that," she said.

The UNHCR said it was a "great concern" children were being held in detention.

"They are being held in police custody pending transfer to other facilities but that amounts to detention," said a representative.

"It's a particular concern as detention conditions fall seriously below standard."

Inside Out is broadcast on BBC One East Midlands at 19:30 on Monday 19 October and nationwide for 30 days thereafter on the iPlayer.

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