The global number of refugee and migrant children moving alone has reached a record high, increasing nearly five-fold since 2010, UNICEF said in a new report made available to NaijaAgroNet.
At least some 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, reports NaijaAgroNet.
The report entitled ‘A Child is a Child: Protecting children on the move from violence, abuse and exploitation’ was recently presented at a global snapshot of refugee and migrant children, the motivations behind their journeys and the risks they face along the way.
The report also showed that an increasing number of these children are taking highly dangerous routes, often at the mercy of smugglers and traffickers, to reach their destinations, clearly justifying the need for a global protection system to keep them safe from exploitation, abuse and death.
UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Justin Forsyth said that one child moving alone is one too many, and yet today, there are a staggering number of children doing just that, stressing that as adults are failing to protect them.
“Ruthless smugglers and traffickers are exploiting their vulnerability for personal gain, helping children to cross borders, only to sell them into slavery and forced prostitution. It is unconscionable that we are not adequately defending children from these predators,” Forsyth said.
The report includes the story of Mary, a 17-year-old unaccompanied minor from Nigeria, who experienced the trauma of being trafficked firsthand during her horrific journey through Libya to Italy.
When describing the smuggler turned trafficker who offered to help her, she said, “Everything (he) said, that we would be treated well, and that we would be safe, it was all wrong. It was a lie.” Mary was trapped in Libya for more than three months where she was abused. “He said to me if I didn’t sleep with him he would not bring me to Europe. He raped me.”
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