Over 150 children died while crossing Central Mediterranean to Italy this year: UNICEF

Over 150 children died while crossing Central Mediterranean to Italy this year: UNICEF


NEW YORK: UNICEF estimated that over more than 150 children died while crossing the Central Mediterranean from North Africa to Italy so far this year on Friday.

Yet the true number of child casualties is almost certainly higher given that many children on the move are unaccompanied, so their deaths often go unreported.

Since the start of the year, nearly 37,000 refugees and migrants, 13 percent of whom are children, have reached Italy by sea via the Central Mediterranean - an increase of 42 percent when compared to the same time period in 2016. This increase comes despite the grave risks involved in travelling one of the most perilous migration routes in the world. At least 849 people have been lost at sea along the route since January.

“It is deeply concerning that vulnerable people, including thousands of children, are risking their lives to reach Europe's shores using this incredibly dangerous route,” said Afshan Khan, UNICEF Regional Director and Special Coordinator for the Refugee and Migrant Crisis in Europe. “This is further evidence that when safe and legal pathways to migration are cut off, desperate children and families will do whatever they can to flee conflict, poverty and deprivation.”

Even over the past few days, calmer waters and warmer weather in the Mediterranean have been accompanied by a surge in refugees and migrants attempting to cross. During the Easter weekend alone, more than 8,300 people were rescued from the sea between Libya and Italy. More attempted crossings bring more death, with eight migrants reported to have drowned over the weekend. The fatality rate for the Central Mediterranean migrant route currently stands at 3 percent for 2017.

The number of unaccompanied and separated children risking their lives on the Central Mediterranean has also dramatically increased, with 1,875 arriving in Italy during January and February this year - a 40 percent increase over 2016.Integrating neglected tropical diseases in global health and development is being released at the Global Partners' Meeting on Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) in Geneva, on 19 April 2017.

The Meeting will celebrate efforts to “Collaborate. Accelerate. Eliminate”, and will be attended by health ministers, industry representatives, partners and a host of well-known personalities, including philanthropists, donors and stakeholders.

Besides celebrating 10 years of multi-stakeholder collaboration, the event will also mark the 5th anniversary of the WHO NTD Roadmap which established targets and milestones for the global control, elimination, and eradication of many of these diseases as well as that of the London Declaration.