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Monday, May 20, 2024  
11 Dhul-Qadah 1445  

Eleven children die at sea every week while attempting to reach Europe

At least 289 have died at sea in first six months of 2023
Photo: United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef)
Photo: United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef)

Fleeing conflict and the affects of climate change, at least 289 children are estimated to have died at sea in the first half of 2023 while attempting to reach Europe, according to the United Nations children agency.

The figure equates to nearly 11 children dying or disappearing every week as they search for safety, peace and better opportunities.

The figure is nearly double the number recorded in the first half of 2022, the UNICEF said on Friday.

“This makes the Central Mediterranean Sea one of the deadliest migration routes in the world for children,” it added.

UNICEF’s global lead on migration and displacement Verena Knaus expected the actual figures to be higher as many shipwrecks on the Central Mediterranean leave no survivors or go unrecorded.

An estimated 11,600 children made the crossing to the Europe in the first six months of 2023, nearly twice of that in the same period of the previous year.

Read more: Greece tragedy: Hameedullah took the boat with three-year-old son

In a news briefing at the UN headquarters in Geneva, Knaus said that in the first three months of this year, the number of children unaccompanied or separated stood at 3,300 or 71% of all children arriving to Europe via the central route.

“This is three times higher than the number in the same period last year. Girls travelling alone are especially likely to experience violence before, during and after their journeys,” she said.

The agency said that the world seems to willfully ignoring what is happening.

It went on to add that many governments were ignoring or standing by silently when nearly 300 children, equivalent to “an entire plane full of children”, were lost at sea while travelling to Europe from Africa in the first half of 2023.

These children can also face detention, deprivation, torture, trafficking, violence, exploitation and rape along the way.

“These children need to know they are not alone. World leaders must urgently act to demonstrate the undeniable worth of children’s lives, moving beyond condolences to resolute pursuit of effective solutions,” said Knaus.

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