from AHMED MOOLA in Cairo, Egypt
CAIRO – AT least 700 children are among over 4 500 African nationals that died attempting to cross the Mediterranean to Europe in the past year.
Refugee women and migrant children that have survived the deadly journey by boat are routinely suffering sexual violence, exploitation, abuse and detention along the Central Mediterranean migration route.
Recent data in a survey of women and child migrants in Libya during late 2016 reveal the appalling level of abuse along the migration route.
At the time of the survey, 256 000 migrants were recorded in Libya, including 30 803 women and 23 102 children – a third of whom were unaccompanied.
The real figures, however, are believed to be at least three times higher.
Most children and women indicated that they had paid smugglers at the beginning of their journey, leaving many in debt under ‘pay as you go’ arrangements and vulnerable to abuse, abduction and trafficking.
Women and children also reported harsh and overcrowded conditions, including lack of nutritious food and adequate shelter, in Libyan detention centres run by both Government and armed militias.
The Central Mediterranean from North Africa to Europe is among the world’s deadliest and most dangerous migrant routes for children and women, said United Nations Children’s Fund’s Afshan Khan.
The route is mostly controlled by smugglers, traffickers and other people seeking to prey upon desperate children and women.
“We need safe and legal pathways and safeguards to protect migrating children that keep them safe and keep predators at bay,” said Khan.
– CAJ News