UNICEF: Mediterranean Sea migration has claimed 289 children this year

By Laureen Fagan - 14 July 2023 at 10:50 pm
UNICEF: Mediterranean Sea migration has claimed 289 children this year

An estimated 11,600 children have traveled a migration route across the Central Mediterranean so far this year, with at least 289 children who have died or disappeared while making the dangerous crossing. Most of them were traveling alone or separated from their parents, according to UNICEF, the United Nations children’s agency.

Others have died on the Atlantic route from West Africa, as with the Canary Islands, or on the eastern Mediterranean Sea, as was the case off the shores of Greece in recent weeks. UNICEF based its data on reports from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and UNHCR, the UN agency for refugees.

The surviving children, typically departing from Libya and Tunisia, have arrived on Italy’s shores at more than twice the rate of last year at this time, UNICEF said. They often do so after difficult land journeys while fleeing conflict in the Sahel, lack of jobs in Ghana or Senegal, or the Horn of Africa’s punishing drought.

“In attempts to find safety, reunite with family, and seek more hopeful futures too many children are boarding boats on the shores of the Mediterranean, only to lose their lives or go missing on the way,” said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell.

“This is a clear sign that more must be done to create safe and legal pathways for children to access asylum, while strengthening efforts to rescue lives at sea. Ultimately, much more must be done to address the root causes that make children risk their lives in the first place.”

IOM says there’s also been an uptick in travel on the Horn of Africa eastern route, with unaccompanied youth from Ethiopia and Somalia seeking work in risky places such as Yemen.

Image: Hellenic Coast Guard file

Laureen Fagan

Laureen Fagan

Laureen is the editor of Africa Times

Laureen is a freelance journalist creating high-quality, informed content on international affairs, politics and technology. She has worked both in and out of newsrooms since 2000. She is a former paramedic with significant experience in community resilience and nonprofit community development initiatives, and maintains "a passion for action" on sustainability and climate change. She also is trained in conflict resolution and diversity, and has special interests in science and medical reporting, and culture and religion issues. Laureen received her MSJ from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism in the United States, and completed additional graduate study in theology at University of Notre Dame. Follow Laureen on Mastodon at @laureen@m.ai6yr.org

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