In the first half of 2023, 289 children have lost their lives or gone missing while attempting the journey across the central Mediterranean to reach Europe.
UNICEF’s data highlights the grim reality of this migration route, with nearly eleven children meeting such a fate each week.
Since 2018, approximately 1,500 children have perished or disappeared while attempting to cross this route, making up one in five of the 8,274 recorded deaths or missing persons.
These numbers may, in fact, be higher due to unreported shipwrecks and other undocumented incidents.
Recent months have seen children and even babies lose their lives not only in the central Mediterranean but also on other routes, such as the Atlantic from West Africa, including tragic incidents off the coasts of Greece and the Canary Islands.
UNICEF reports a rise in child migration, with 11,600 children arriving on Italian shores from North Africa since January 2023, double the previous year’s count.
In the first quarter of 2023, 3,300 children – 71% of those using this route to Europe – arrived unaccompanied or separated from guardians, exposing them to higher risks of violence and exploitation, especially girls traveling alone.