A new report from the UN refugee agency said that last year, 59.95 million people worldwide had fled their homes due to conflict and persecution - and more and more children are being affected.
In 2014 alone, over 6,100 asylum-seeking or migrant children were recorded as reaching Greece, the vast majority by making the perilous crossing over the Mediterranean.
Of these about 1,100 were registered as travelling alone but according to Human Rights Watch actual figures are likely to be far higher. Many children will claim to be over 18 because processing takes so much longer for unaccompanied minors as authorities try and find room for them in special shelters. Adults can be released in just a few days.
Many are fleeing abuses in their home countries such as recruitment as child soldiers, child marriage, and the horrors of war in Syria and Afghanistan. Human Rights Watch interviewed children who were being detained in the Greek islands. These are their stories:
Adnan, 16, from Syria:
I cannot live in Syria... We can’t walk safely on the street. We can’t guarantee our lives. They attack the schools, they attack the mosques. My school was bombed. A plane attacked it at night. One month later, we moved to Quneitra. A year after we arrived, that school was destroyed too.
Asif, 17, from Afghanistan, who is being detained on Lesbos:
It feels like I’m in jail... Last night, people entered my room and took everything. They say children should be protected, but it means nothing.
Akbar, 17, from Afghanistan:
I fled the Taliban, because many children who are my age are taken by the Taliban to use as suicide bombers.
Leylo, 16, from Somalia, who said other detainees on Chios controlled when she was allowed to go to the toilet:
They keep treating us like kids and saying you will go tomorrow, you will go tomorrow, but I don’t see us going anywhere.
Sayid, 18, from Syria, who tried to find work at a factory in Turkey:
It was long hours and little money... Sometimes they made us work until 11pm. We had no choice.
Hani, 17, from Syria, who was pressured into joining the military:
I don’t want to carry a weapon. I’ve never held a weapon and I won’t do it. Not for the government, not for an armed group…. I saw what was happening and I saw it would happen to me and decided to leave. [If they take you,] maybe you’ll stay till death or until the war is finished.
Bakir, 16, from Afghanistan, who previously tried to find sanctuary in Iran, where he started working aged 14:
I worked from 8 a.m. to midnight every day, and during busy periods, even longer. The owner of the company said 'If you won’t work like this, you won’t get paid.'