UNICEF: 24,600 children stranded in Europe "suffering psychologically"

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Mariem, 8, a refugee from the Syrian Arab Republic, in her family's shelter in Pikpa Village, an open refugee camp run by volunteers outside of Mytilini, Lesvos, Greece. © UNICEF/UN057954/Gilbertson VII Photo

Around 75,000 refugees and migrants, including an estimated 24,600 children, who are stranded in transit points across Europe are at risk of suffering major psychological stress.

That's according to the UN Children's Fund, UNICEF, which said the situation was particularly bad for single mothers and children.

Matthew Wells has more.

The refugee and migrant children are living in a "protracted state of limbo," said UNICEF, in countries such as Greece, Bulgaria and Hungary, as well as in the Western Balkans.

Even for those who have a legitimate right to join families in destination countries in Western Europe such as Germany or Sweden, most stranded asylum seekers do not know when they will be allowed to move on.

UNICEF said that single mothers stuck in Greece or the Balkans were the most vulnerable to the effects of stress as many of them were following husbands who had made the trip to Europe first.

Some "have not seen their husbands and fathers for months or even years," said Afshan Khan, UNICEF Regional Director for the Refugee and Migrant Crisis in Europe.

"It is this uncertainly which can cause significant emotional distress," she added.

In 2016, out of nearly 5,000 family reunification requests made from Greece, just over 1,000 had reached their destination country by the end of the year.

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 52″

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