In a startling report by UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Children’s Emergency Fund), nine out of 10 African children are traveling to Europe unaccompanied by adults, due to deteriorating economic and political conditions in their home countries. The journey that they are making, as told by the Guardian, has transformed into one of the deadliest routes for migrants to travel across.
For adults, the journey across waters is already dangerous, and children who are alone are exposed to increasingly frightening situations, riding on unseaworthy vessels, as over 100 Libyan refugees drowned after a boat capsized trying to reach Europe earlier this month. UNICEF reports:
“The children rely on human traffickers, often under a “pay as you go system”, making them prone to exploitation and abuse including rape, forced labour, beatings and death. It said Italian social workers told the agency some boys and girls were sexually assaulted and forced into prostitution in Libya, while some girls arriving in Italy were pregnant as a result of rape.”
UNICEF was unable to determine why numbers of child refugees and migrants have spiked. In an effort to “stem” the migrant crisis, Europe has offered aid packages to nine countries in Africa and the Middle East, including Libya, Turkey, Ethiopia, Jordan and Nigeria. However, with the history of colonialism extracting resources, impoverishing different African countries, and Europe being a source of power and wealth, it is likely that the migrant wave will not end, as England just allowed 5 million new EU into its borders.