UNICEF warns of growing abuse risk for refugee, migrant children arriving in Europe
UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Yoka Brandt and Novak Djokovic, the number one ranked tennis player in the world, hold a signed agreement announcing Novak Djokovic as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador at UNICEF House.
On 26 August 2015, UNICEF announced Novak Djokovics appointment as a Goodwill Ambassador. Djokovic, the number one ranked tennis player in the world, has focused on the issues of vulnerable children and their communities through his previous position as a UNICEF Serbia Ambassador and his own Novak Djokovic Foundation. Djokovic first teamed up with UNICEF in 2011 when he was appointed a UNICEF Serbia Ambassador. Since then, he has been lending his support to improving the lives of children, especially those who are amongst the most marginalized, with a particular focus on the importance of early childhood education and development in providing children with the best start to life. Novak also signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the World Bank and the Novak Djokovic Foundation, setting out how the two institutions can partner more closely to promote early childhood development. UNICEF and the Foundation have established a close cooperation on bringing early childhood services to every child and family in Serbia, and the welcome addition of the Banks resouces will allow an even broader reach to the most deprived children around the world.© UNICEF/NYHQ2015-2048/Nesbitt
UNITED NATIONS (PNA/Xinhua) — More than nine out of 10 refugee and migrant children arriving in Europe this year through Italy are unaccompanied, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said Tuesday, warning of growing threats of abuse, exploitation and death that such children are facing.
In the report, “Danger Every Step of the Way,” which was released Tuesday, UNICEF said that 7,009 unaccompanied children made the crossing from North Africa to Italy in the first five months of the year, twice as many as the past year.
“The agency said the children generally rely on human smugglers, often under a system of ‘pay as you go’, which opens them to exploitation, including sexual exploitation and other abuse,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters here.
The report documented the risks that adolescents take in their flight to escape conflict, despair and poverty.
“It is a silent and desperate situation — out of sight and out of mind. Yet tens of thousands of children face danger every day and hundreds of thousands more are prepared to risk everything, “ said Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF special coordinator for the refugee and migrant crisis in Europe.
“We urgently need to protect these children from all types of abuse and exploitation by those taking advantage of the situation to exploit their dreams.”
A total of 2,809 deaths were recorded in the Mediterranean between Jan. 1 and June 5, 2016, as compared with 3,770 for the whole of 2015. The vast majority were on the Central Mediterranean route, and many were children, according to the report.
UNICEF noted that some adolescents are sexually abused and exploited.
Italian social workers told the UN agency that both girls and boys were sexually assaulted and forced into prostitution while in Libya, and that some of the girls were pregnant when they arrived in Italy, having been raped.
However, because of the illicit nature of human smuggling operations, there are no reliable figures to show how many of the refugees and migrants die, disappear into forced labor or prostitution, or linger in detention, UNICEF said.
With summer upon the Mediterranean, the latest numbers of children on the Central Mediterranean route may well be just the tip of the iceberg, according to UNICEF. Another 235,000 migrants are currently in Libya, tens of thousands of them unaccompanied children.
“Every country – those the children leave, those they cross and those in which they seek asylum—has an obligation to establish protection systems focused on the risks that unaccompanied children face,” Poirier said.
“In the European Union and other destination countries, there is an opportunity for policy and legislative reforms to lead to more opportunities for safe, legal and regular channels for these children,” she added. (PNA/Xinhua)