The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said in a recent report that it is estimated that at least 289 children have died or disappeared this year while trying to cross the perilous migration route in the Mediterranean from North Africa to Europe.
Verina Knauss, responsible for the migration and displacement file at UNICEF, explained at a United Nations press conference in Geneva, today, Friday, that in the first six months of 2023 alone, about 289 children died, which is equivalent to the death of 11 children every week.
UNICEF added that about 11,600 children arrived on the shores of Italy this year from North Africa, most of whom were alone and without their families.
Knauss noted that these numbers are driven by conflicts in Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and other conflicts in West Africa, and even as far afield as Afghanistan.
In the same context, she said that children are dying due to the lack of safe and legal ways, in addition to the absence of effective search and rescue mechanisms to prevent such deaths.
The UN official attributed the death of these children to the “inaction” of some governments.
“Children are dying because they are so desperate in their countries,” she added, stressing that such deaths are “completely avoidable and preventable.”
Since 2018, UNICEF estimates that around 1,500 children have died or gone missing while trying to cross the Mediterranean.
The report called for work to create safe and legal pathways for children to obtain asylum, while strengthening efforts to save lives at sea, in addition to addressing the root causes of the issue.