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Number of unaccompanied refugee and migrant children hits ‘record high’ – UNICEF

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On May 18, 2017, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) mentioned that number of children travelling alone has increased five–fold since year 2010. According to the new UNICEF report titled A Child is a Child: Protecting children on the move from violence, abuse and exploitation, at least 300,000 unaccompanied and separated children were recorded in some 80 countries in the combined years of 2015 and 2016, up from 66,000 in 2010 and 2011.

Highlights of UNICEF Report:

Out of the 300,000 unaccompanied and separated children, 170000 sought asylum in Europe. Most of them arrived in Europe by undertaking a dangerous journey across the Mediterranean Sea.

  • About 100000 children were counted at US-Mexico border.
  • 92% of children who arrived by boat in Italy in 2016 and early 2017 came UNICEF Reportunaccompanied. They migrated from African nations of Eritrea, Gambia, Nigeria, Egypt and Guinea.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa and Central America and the Caribbean have the highest share of children among detected trafficking victims at 64% and 62% respectively.
  • The report also mentioned that as much as 20% of smugglers have links to human trafficking networks.
  • Children account for approximately 28% of trafficking victims globally.

UNICEF’s Six-point Agenda for Action:

In order to ensure physical safety and protect rights of these children, UNICEF has asked Governments to commit to its Six-point Agenda for Action:
  1. Protect child refugees and migrants, particularly unaccompanied children, from exploitation and violence;
  2. End the detention of children seeking refugee status or migrating, by introducing a range of practical alternatives;
  3. Keep families together as the best way to protect children and give children legal status;
  4. Keep all refugee and migrant children learning and give them access to health and other quality services;
  5. Press for action on the underlying causes of large scale movements of refugees and migrants; and
  6. Promote measures to combat xenophobia, discrimination and marginalization in countries of transit and destination.

Quick Facts about UNICEF:

  • Formation Year: 1946
  • Headquarters: New York, US
  • Current Executive Director: Anthony Lake