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UNICEF: Nearly 200 refugee kids have died in Aegean

2 December 2015 17:59


Nearly 200 refugee children have died in the Aegean Sea between Turkey and Greece so far this year, UNICEF says.

“In the Aegean [Sea], about 30 percent of the deaths this year have been of children. This is currently 185 children out of a total of 590 deaths in the Eastern Mediterranean this year,” UNICEF spokeswoman Sarah Crowe said on Tuesday.

“Generally many more people [of all ages] have died in the Central Mediterranean, 2,890 so far,” Crowe said.

“We don’t know what share of those who died are children though,” the UNICEF official added.

Between January and September 2015, children represented nearly one third of all asylum seekers in the European Union, according to UNICEF.

A quarter of all these child applicants hail from Syria, followed by Afghan children with 18 percent of the total.

Kids ‘most vulnerable’ among refugees

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) says children are among the most vulnerable of the refugees traveling to Europe.

“Children are among the most vulnerable of the migrants and refugees traveling to Europe,” Leonard Doyle, the IOM spokesman, said on Tuesday.

“In October, over 90 children died on their way to Greece, and in the past week, nine of the 12 deaths on this crossing have been of children. Along the journey, children are also more at risk of illness and injury, as well as exploitation, separation from family, kidnapping and trafficking,” the IOM says.

The organization added that an important cause for concern was the high number of unaccompanied and separated children arriving in Europe.

Along the route through the Balkans to Western Europe, Macedonian authorities have registered more than 15,000 unaccompanied minors since mid-June.

The IOM has stated on its website that from January to October this year, over 23,000 unaccompanied and separated children had sought asylum in Sweden, the most sought after destination for children of that type in Europe. The figure is larger than that in the entire EU last year. The majority are adolescent males, although Italy has also seen a rise in the number of unaccompanied and trafficked Nigerian girls arriving.

A woman and her children look on as refugees wait to cross the Greece-Macedonia border in the rain near Gevgelija, Macedonia, November 27, 2015. (AFP Photo)

According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the number of refugees who have arrived on Europe’s southern shores this year is climbing toward 900,000.

Marie-Pierre Poirier, the top UNICEF official dealing with the European migration crisis, has said, “Warm clothes, scarves and baby socks are not enough.”

“Children … need stability, protection and support,” she has stated.

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