Two children drown, on average, per day while trying to cross Central Mediterranean due to the “absence of safe and legal routes”, the UN Children’s Agency, UNICEF, said on Friday, Anadolu Agency reports.
The number of children that have lost their lives while attempting to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe has doubled compared to last year, Verena Knaus, the UNICEF’s Global Chief on Migration and Displacement, told a UN press briefing in Geneva.
These numbers, she said, are driven by conflicts in Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, West Africa and even as far away as Afghanistan.
In the first six months of 2023 alone, 289 children have died, Knaus said, equivalent to around 11 children dying every week. In the same period, the total number of children recorded that have tried to cross is around 11,600, she added.
“They are literally drowning in the inaction around the shores,” she said. “Children are dying because there is an absence of safe and legal routes. Children are dying because there are no robust search and rescue capacities deployed to prevent such deaths. And children are dying because they’re so desperate in their countries and unable to seek protection in countries they cross.”
She stressed: “These deaths are absolutely preventable.”
Regarding the figures of the children who take these perilous journeys alone, Knaus said that their numbers tripled compared to last year, as nearly 3,000 children made the crossing alone – 71 per cent of all children making the crossing.