World Bulletin / News Desk
Over 9,000 child refugees and immigrants have arrived in Italy by boat so far this year, with over a third travelling alone and at risk, Save the Children said on Thursday.
The organization titled "From Syria to Europe, fleeing the war" said in a report that over 58,000 people who have made the perilous journey from the coast of North Africa across the Mediterranean, 3,160 were unaccompanied minors.
The majority of the accompanied minors - many of whom were under five years old - were Syrian, and most were landing in Italy after long and dangerous journeys though Libya, where they are exposed to "persecution, theft, threats and violence."
Most Syrian families arriving "are middle class professionals, businessmen, shopkeepers, farmers" who "fled Syria one or two years ago on a costly journey, often passing through Lebanon and Egypt," where many spend months "in precarious conditions".
"In Libya we were molested, they told us to leave...we decided to go, to die at sea was better than the hell we were living there," 15-year-old Nadia from Homs was cited as saying.
At the start of June, the organization said around a third of minors registered on arrival in Italy were then dropping off the radar, and Italian charities have warned that they may be at risk of falling into the clutches of organised crime groups or organ traffickers.
Vittorio Piscitelli, Italy's commissioner for missing persons, in April said the missing minors "could end up in the hands of human traffickers, or groups of paedophiles. And we cannot disregard the abominable practice of organ trafficking."
Programme director for Save the Children in Italy, Raffaele Milano said "a solution must be found as soon as possible to avoid other unaccompanied minors leaving the reception centres, becoming 'invisible' and exposing themselves to the risk of exploitation or violence".
Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano estimated that number at between 400,000 and 600,000 people.Last Mod: 19 Haziran 2014, 17:06