A recently published United Nations reports exposes the miseries young children are subjected to en route from Libya to Italy. The report states that despite efforts to curb the incidences, the children still take the dangerous route as they seek a better home in Italy, reports BBC.
The UN branch, UNICEF, reports that an estimated 26,000 children made efforts to cross the Mediterranean Sea in 2016 – most of the time unaccompanied.
The smugglers and traffickers involved subject the children to violence and abuse. The acts are rarely reported because the children are afraid they may be arrested or deported.
The agency further adds that Libya’s detention centers have a shortage of food, water and medical care.
This plight that children face, most times in the absence of their parents, can be considered a common occurrence ever since the migration escalated almost two years ago.
Whereas the sea has been termed to be extremely dangerous, the privations suffered on land in Libya couldn’t be any less.
A Deadly Journey for Children
The UNICEF report titled A Deadly Journey for Children narrates horrific stories of sexual abuse, violence and slavery that the vulnerable children have been exposed to as they try to find greener pastures in Italy.
The organization’s deputy executive director, Justin Forsyth, said that he and the UNICEF staff were particularly shocked by the happenings on the journey. “Many of these children have been brutalised, raped, killed on this route.”
The report highlights the case of one victim Kamis, a nine-year-old girl who set off with her mother from Nigeria. They travelled in a group crossing the Sahara desert under the scorching sun which killed one man. Their tribulations didn’t end in the dry land as they fought against sea, were dramatically rescued and found themselves at a detention centre in the Libyan town of Sabratha.
While being interviewed by one of the researchers, Kamis said that they used to be caned; they lacked water and had nothing to eat. “That place was very sad. There’s nothing there,” she said.
Most of the violent incidences narrated were sexually-aligned.
The reports states that close to half of the interviewed women were sexually abused in the course of migrating. The sexual abuse was not once but multiple times in different locations.
The most dangerous places are the borders.
Instead of the people in uniform protecting the migrants in search of a home, they are reported to have been the largest perpetuators. This explains why the victims chose to suffer in silence.
Libya earned itself the shocking title as the central point of assaults. Many of the dangerous journeys pass through Libya.
Close to one third of the interviewed persons said their abuse happened in Libya. A bigger percentage of the children chose to keep quite when asked to the person who abused them.
Aware of the dangers ahead
Most of the women embarking on the dangerous journey were aware of the risks that lay ahead. Many of them chose to take precaution s such as contraceptive injections and carrying emergency protection.
The extent of the abuse may be much worse than reported. Mr Forsyth said that they are much concerned about the detention centres run by militia. They speculate the abuse to be heightened here although they have very limited access.