UNICEF alarmed at recent refugee and migrant deaths in the Mediterranean

30th May 2016

DUBLIN/NEW YORK/GENEVA, 29 May 2015 – UNICEF expresses alarm at the number of migrant and refugee deaths in the past week in the Central Mediterranean, many of whom were believed to be unaccompanied minors.

In anticipation of a major summer upswing of child migrants using the dangerous crossing between Libya and Italy UNICEF will shortly begin an operation with the Italian Government and partners to provide protection support.

Under the declaration, UNICEF will:

  • Monitor reception standards for refugee and migrant children, especially those who are unaccompanied, to ensure they are in line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child;
  • Monitor the situation of refugee and migrant children in reception centers, particularly in the regions of Calabria, Campania and Sicily, in southern Italy;
  • Monitor all actions aimed at the integration of migrant and refugee children into Italian society.

The vast majority of children using the crossing are unaccompanied adolescents and they have faced appalling abuses, exploitation and the possibility of death at every step of their journey.

An average of 1,000 unaccompanied children a month have arrived in Italy so far this year, but UNICEF expects this figures to spike in the coming months.

“The stories I have personally heard from children making this journey are horrifying. No child should face them. Their lives are in the hands of smugglers who care for nothing other than the money they exhort from them,” said Marie-Pierre Poirier UNICEF special coordinator for the European Refugee and Migrant Crisis.


Notes for Editors

Multimedia materials from a recent UNICEF mission to Italy are available for download here.

If you are interested in stories about the journeys refugee and migrant children are making to Europe, check out our animations of real-life experiences in The Unfairy Tales series.


UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. 

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For more information about UNICEF and its work for children visit www.unicef.ie

For further information, please contact:

Aedín Donnelly, Communications and Media Manager for UNICEF Ireland aedin@unicef.ie | Tel: +353 1 809 0281 | Mob: +353 85 1395272 

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