The number of refugee and migrant children moving alone has increased in recent times, the United Nations International Children Emergency Fund, UNICEF, has stated in a new report.
According to UNICEF, the number is nearly five-fold since 2010, with at least 300,000 unaccompanied and separated children recorded in some 80 countries in the combined years of 2015 and 2016, up from 66,000 in 2010 and 2011.
The report also revealed that 200,000 unaccompanied children applied for asylum across around 80 countries in 2015-2016.
Another 100,000 unaccompanied children were apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border in 2015-2016, while 170,000 unaccompanied children applied for asylum in Europe in 2015-2016.
The report also disclosed that unaccompanied and separated children accounted for 92 per cent of all children arriving to Italy by sea in 2016 and the first months of 2017.
Children according to the report also accounted for approximately 28 per cent of trafficking victims globally, with Sub-Saharan Africa, Central America and the Caribbean having the highest share of children among detected trafficking victims at 64 and 62 per cent respectively.
Ahead of the G7 Summit in Italy, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Justin Forsyth has called on governments to adopt its six-point agenda for action to protect refugee and migrant children and ensure their wellbeing.
He stated that these children need a real commitment from governments around the world to ensure their safety throughout their journeys.
“Leaders gathering next week at the G7 should lead this effort by being the first to commit to our six-point agenda for action.
The report shows that an increasing number of these children are taking highly dangerous routes, often at the mercy of smugglers and traffickers, to reach their destinations, clearly justifying the need for a global protection system to keep them safe from exploitation, abuse and death.
“One child moving alone is one too many, and yet today, there are a staggering number of children doing just that – we as adults are failing to protect them.
“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.
“It is unconscionable that we are not adequately defending children from these predators,” he said.
The Group of Seven (G7) is an informal bloc of industrialized democracies—Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States—that meets annually to discuss issues such as global economic governance, international security, and energy policy.