UNICEF says 289 children have died or disappeared in Med this year

Photo: ansa.it
ROME. KAZINFORM UNICEF said Friday that at least 289 children are estimated to have died or disappeared this year attempting to cross the perilous Central Mediterranean Sea migration route from North Africa to Europe.

The UN agency said this equates to nearly 11 children dying or disappearing every week, ANSA reports.

Furthermore, UNICEF said that it estimates around 1,500 children have died or gone missing while attempting the Central Mediterranean Sea crossing since 2018.

This number accounts for one in five of the 8,274 people who have died or gone missing on the route, according to IOM's Missing Migrant Project records.

Many shipwrecks on the Central Mediterranean Sea crossing leave no survivors or go unrecorded, making the true number of child casualties practically impossible to verify and likely much higher, the agency said.

UNICEF said it that estimates 11,600 children have arrived on the shores of Italy from North Africa since January 2023, twice as many as in the same period in 2022.

The majority of the children depart from Libya and Tunisia, having already made dangerous journeys from countries across Africa and the Middle East, it said.

«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.»

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