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Child migrants account for four in every 100 deaths in the Mediterranean a decade after Lampedusa tragedy

Date

03 Oct 2023

Sections

Global Europe

ROME, 3 October 2023 - The number of children losing their lives trying to cross the Mediterranean has risen to 4% of all deaths, up from less than 1% in 2014, despite promises of action after more than 360 people died in a shipwreck off Lampedusa, Save the Children said on Tuesday.

It is exactly 10 years since an overcrowded boat heading from Libya sank off the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa, in one of the Mediterranean's worst shipwrecks. About 155 people were rescued but an estimated 368 died. A decade later, no real progress has been made in the EU political action to save people at sea.

More than 28,000 people aspiring for a better future have been reported dead or missing in the Mediterranean since 2014, according to the latest figures released by the Missing Migrants Project of the IOM. Among them, over 1,100 were children, which now account for four in every 100 deaths.

More than 112,000 unaccompanied children have arrived in Italy by sea since 2014, with more than 11,600 arriving in 2023 alone.

After the 2013 shipwreck, European authorities vowed “never again”. A decade later, it seems no number is high enough to take systemic and EU-led action to put human rights first. In the absence of safe pathways to reach Europe and improved search and rescue coordinated efforts, horrific deaths at sea will continue to happen.

“People fleeing from conflict, violence, extreme poverty, and the impacts of climate change still risk their lives, often relying on traffickers in the absence of safe and legal routes to reach Europe,” said Giovanna di Benedetto, Save the Children’s spoke person in Lampedusa.

Save the Children is calling the EU and its Member States to take responsibility for protecting children and vulnerable people at EU sea and land borders. It is of utmost urgency to set up coordinated search-and-rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea, to ensure ships face no obstacles when they rescue people in distress, to provide safe and legal routes to seek safety in Europe and to share responsibility for the assistance of children and vulnerable people.

Save the Children emphasises the crucial need to ensure that every unaccompanied child can access essential rights and protection in Italy, no matter their age. Every child, unequivocally, deserves the right to adequate care and support, in consideration not only of their hardships and traumas but also of their aspirations and hopes.

NOTES:

IOM – Missing Migranst Project data https://missingmigrants.iom.int/region/mediterranean.  Data accessed September 27, 2023

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