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Child refugees in Italy at risk: UNICEF

14 June 2016 21:22

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The United Nations children’s agency says most of the child refugees who have survived the perilous journey across the Mediterranean Sea from Libya to Italy this year were unaccompanied by adults, making them vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.

“92 percent of some 7,600 children who made the dangerous and often deadly crossing between January and May were unaccompanied minors,” the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) spokeswoman, Sarah Crowe, told reporters in Geneva on Tuesday.

The ratio is “up from 68 percent in the same span last year, when 4,566 children crossed,” Crowe said.

She added that most of the minors were boys aged between 15 and 17, and came from Somalia, Nigeria and Eritrea.

The Irish spokeswoman for the UN agency warned that the boys and girls who landed in the European Union have faced prostitution, pedophilia rings and gangsterism.

She said that it was unclear why the number of minors unaccompanied by parents arriving on the continent had increased.

In February, the European Union police agency Europol said more than 10,000 unaccompanied refugee children had gone missing during the recent influx of refugees.


Children hold placards asking for help at the Moria detention camp for refugees at the Greek island of Lesbos on May 24, 2016. (AFP Photo)

 

As of Sunday, 210,000 refugees have crossed the Mediterranean Sea in 2016 – mainly landing in Italy and Greece, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Also, in a Tuesday report entitled “Fatal Journeys,” the IOM noted that at least 60,000 refugees had died on the route to a new country over the last 20 years.

IOM pointed out that the families of those refugees who died on the way to a new destiny rarely learned of the fate of their kin.

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