Health Care

300000 children migrating solo, up almost fivefold

300000 children migrating solo, up almost fivefold

Around 300,000 unaccompanied and separated children were documented by UNICEF in 2015 and 2016 compared to only 66,000 in 2010 and 2011.

UNICEF said children made up almost a third of trafficking victims world-wide, with high risk of experiencing violence or sexual abuse, among others.It said people smugglers often "sell them into exploitation, sometimes akin to contemporary forms of slavery" and that many are "held against their will or. forced to work without pay".

200,000 unaccompanied children applied for asylum across around 80 countries in 2015-2016. The report shows that an increasing number of these children are taking highly unsafe routes, often at the mercy of smugglers and traffickers, to reach their destinations, clearly justifying the need for a global protection system to keep them safe from exploitation, abuse and death.

Speaking from the largest refugee camp in the world in Uganda, World Vision chief advocate, Tim Costello, said the organisation has registered thousands of children travelling alone in the last 10 months.

The report illustrated that over three-quarters of 1,600 children aged 14-17 who arrived in Italy via the Central Mediterranean route reported such bad experiences as being held against their will or being forced to work without pay.

A new report released on Thursday outlines the vulnerability children face as refugees and urges to governments do more to help the growing crisis. "It is unconscionable that we are not adequately defending children from these predators", stated Mr. Forsyth.

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"The situation here in Uganda is much more dramatic in it's rawness, in its poverty and people being on the edge than what I have seen anywhere else", he said.

Aimamo, 16, and his twin brother reported having to endure two months of forced labour on a farm in Libya in order to pay off their smugglers, a situation he likened to slavery. "After working, they lock you inside". "Leaders gathering next week at the G7 should lead this effort by being the first to commit to our six-point agenda for action".

"These children need a real commitment from governments around the world to ensure their safety throughout their journeys", said Forsyth.

It said over half the total, 170,000, requested asylum in Europe, and 92% of the children who have arrived in Italy were unaccompanied or had become separated from their parents.

George Graham, Save the Children's director of conflict and humanitarian policy, said: "Children fleeing violence, persecution and poverty are taking huge risks in search of safety ... it is vital that the European Union urgently establishes safe and legal routes which offer children the chance to find sanctuary, rather than being forced to make deadly journeys, often completely alone".


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