MORE than 400 children have died this year trying to reach Europe by sea through Libya, the North African country at the centre of a slave trade scandal.
13 000 migrant children, including 14 000 unaccompanied minors, are in urgent need of assistance in the country.
The United Nations Children’s Fund and International Organisation for Migration expressed shock at the figures.
This year, nearly 15 000 unaccompanied kids reached Italy by sea, travelling across the dangerous Central Mediterranean route from Libya, their journeys typically facilitated by smugglers and traffickers.
Many more suffered abuse, exploitation, enslavement and detention.
In reaction, the organisations joined forces to increase support to migrant children in Libya, focusing on child protection, education, water, sanitation and health.
“The aim is that through closer collaboration, we will be able to reach and protect more children on the move. Children are among the most vulnerable and many are in need of protection and support,” said Othman Belbeisi, the Organisation for Migration’s Libya chief of mission.
Next year the organisation aims to assist 30 000 migrants return to their country of origin, among them migrant children.
Abdel-Rahman Ghandour, the Children’s Fund special representative in Libya, said migrant children were some of the most vulnerable people in Libya.
He welcomed the agreement. – CAJ NEWS