Vera Knaus, Global Leader for Migration and Displacement, spoke to reporters in Geneva, Switzerland, about children who lost their lives while crossing the Mediterranean, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Noting that 289 children died in the middle of this year, Knaus said that this number has doubled compared to the same period of the previous year. Noting that this number is “far beyond what is seen in the news headlines”, Knaus emphasized that the number in question is equivalent to the death of approximately 11 children every week.
‘A planeload’ of children died in just 6 months
Knaus underlined that it is not possible to watch “a planeload” of children die in just 6 months.
Pointing out that regional conflicts and climate change have forced many children to embark on a dangerous sea voyage from the north of Africa to Europe, Knaus said that it is estimated that 11,600 children crossed the Mediterranean in the first half of the year, and this number is around 2022 compared to the same period. He said it was twice as much.
UNICEF estimates that the actual death toll of children is higher due to the absence or registration of many shipwrecks in the central Mediterranean.
“Hundreds of boys and girls drowning in the world’s inaction”
Stressing that many of these deaths were preventable, Knaus said, “The world deliberately ignores these deaths.” said.
Pointing out that the Central Mediterranean is one of the “deadliest” migration routes for children, Knaus said, “Hundreds of girls and boys are drowning in the world’s inaction.” made its assessment.
Noting that 3,300 children reached Europe without their parents in the first three months of the year, Knaus said that girls who travel alone are even more vulnerable to violence.
Knaus called on the countries of the region and the European Union (EU) to do more to protect vulnerable children, both at sea and in their destination countries, noting the importance of the need for safe, legal and accessible ways for children to be reunited with their families.
Reminding that the task of rescuing a boat in distress is a fundamental rule in international maritime law, Knaus emphasized that the act of pushing back at sea or land borders means a violation of national, EU and international law.