Children Account for 20% of Maritime Arrivals to Europe in 2015: IOM and UNICEF

Posted: 
12/01/15
Themes: 
Migration and Youth, Missing Migrants

Germany - A new data brief produced by IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre and UNICEF shows that children make up at least one in five of the 870,000 refugees and migrants who have crossed the Mediterranean Sea so far this year.

The share is greatest along the Eastern Mediterranean route from Turkey to Greece and through the Western Balkans, where children make up over one quarter of arrivals. About 10 per cent of arrivals to Italy are children, with nearly three quarters unaccompanied by a parent or guardian.

Children are among the most vulnerable of the migrants and refugees travelling to Europe.  More than one third of all deaths in the Aegean Sea this year have been of children, many of them infants.

In October, over 90 children died on their way to Greece, and in the past week, 9 of the 12 deaths on this crossing have been of children. Along the journey, children are also more at risk of illness and injury, as well as exploitation, separation from family, kidnapping and trafficking.

Between January and September 2015, children represented nearly one third of all asylum claimants in the EU, and numbers of applications had surpassed those for the entire year of 2014. About 49 per cent of these are children from the conflict-affected countries of Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.

The high number of unaccompanied and separated children (UASC) arriving in Europe is also of concern. From January to October this year, over 23,000 unaccompanied and separated children had sought asylum in Sweden – the top destination for UASC in Europe – more than did in the entire EU last year. The majority are adolescent males, although Italy has also seen a rise in the number of unaccompanied and trafficked Nigerian girls arriving.

UNICEF and IOM call on states and humanitarian actors to safeguard children and families making dangerous journeys to Europe, and to ensure adequate support is available in destination countries. 

To view the complete brief, please go to: http://www.iom.int/sites/default/files/press_release/file/IOM-UNICEF-Dat...

For more information please contact Tara Brian at the IOM GMDAC in Berlin, Email: tbrian@iom.int, Website: http://iomgmdac.org/ 

Child migrants on the Greek island of Lesbos. © IOM/Amanda Nero 2015