Migrants: Mediterranean now cemetery for children – UN

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The number of Europe-bound migrants who died or went missing in the Mediterranean this summer has tripled since last year, the UN said Friday, adding it had become a “cemetery” for children.

Between June and August, at least 990 people perished or vanished trying to get to Europe from northern Africa, compared to 334 deaths over the same months in 2022, the UN’s children’s agency UNICEF said.

At least 289 children have died so far this year while trying to make the dangerous crossing, said Nicola dell’Arciprete, UNICEF’s country coordinator for Italy.

There were 11,600 unaccompanied minors among the migrants who arrived in Italy on makeshift vessels between January and September, up 60 per cent from the first nine months of 2022.

“The Mediterranean has become a cemetery for children and their future,” UNICEF’s Regina De Dominicis said.

“The tragic toll of children dying in search of asylum and security in Europe is the result of political choices and a defective migration system,” she said.

According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, 2,500 migrants died or went missing in the Mediterranean between January 1 and September 24, 50 percent more than in the same period last year.

A surge of migrants arriving at Italy’s Lampedusa island earlier this month — with some 8,500 arrivals in just three days — will likely be repeated in coming weeks, said dell’Arciprete.

“We know that these are figures that could even rise in the coming months because there are a number of conflicts, natural disasters or even climate events in the countries of origin or transit of these minors,” he said.

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