Originally published by Krista Larson, The Associated Press, in The Seattle Times (17 May 2017):
DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — Authorities have documented more than 300,000 children migrating alone worldwide over a two-year period, marking a dramatic escalation of a trend that has forced many young refugees into slavery and prostitution, the U.N. children’s agency said Wednesday.
UNICEF said 170,000 of those children sought asylum in Europe in 2015-2016, many after making the treacherous trip across the Mediterranean Sea where hundreds of children are estimated to have drowned last year.
Nearly 92 percent of the boys and girls arriving by boat in Italy in 2016 and early 2017 came unaccompanied or had been separated from their relatives along the way, the report said. They came mainly from the African nations of Eritrea, Gambia, Nigeria, Egypt and Guinea, UNICEF said.
“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,” UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Justin Forsyth said. “It is unconscionable that we are not adequately defending children from these predators.”…original article here