Number of migrant children travelling alone hits record high: UNICEF
At least 300000 unaccompanied and separated children were recorded in around 80 countries in the combined years of 2015 and 2016.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on 18 May 2017 announced that the number of children travelling alone has increased five times since 2010.
In addition, the agency also warned that many young refugees and migrants are taking highly dangerous routes to reach their destinations.
At least 300000 unaccompanied and separated children were recorded in around 80 countries in the combined years of 2015 and 2016, up from 66000 in 2010 and 2011, as per the new UNICEF report titled A Child is a Child: Protecting children on the move from violence, abuse and exploitation.
The report depicts a global picture of refugee and migrant children, the motivations behind their journeys and the risks they face along the way.
Key highlights of the report
• At least 300000 unaccompanied and separated children moving across borders were registered in 80 countries in 2015–16.
• 92 per cent of children who arrived to Italy by sea in 2016 were unaccompanied. The figure is up from 75 per cent in 2015.
• 100000 unaccompanied children were apprehended at the Mexico–United States border in 2015 and 2016.
• 75 per cent of children who arrived in Italy reported experiences such as being held against their will or being forced to work without pay.
• The report also finds that children account for approximately 28 per cent of trafficking victims globally.
• In Sub-Saharan Africa and Central America and the Caribbean have the highest share of children among detected trafficking victims at 64 and 62 per cent, respectively.
To tackle the issue, UNICEF presented a six-point agenda. UNICEF calls on governments to adopt its six-point agenda for action, which includes:
• Protect child refugees and migrants, particularly unaccompanied children, from exploitation and violence
• End the detention of children seeking refugee status or migrating, by introducing a range of practical alternatives
• Keep families together as the best way to protect children and give children legal status
• Keep all refugee and migrant children learning and give them access to health and other quality services
• Press for action on the underlying causes of large scale movements of refugees and migrants
• Promote measures to combat xenophobia, discrimination and marginalization in countries of transit and destination