New York/Brussels – Migrant and refugee children and youth trying to reach Europe face appalling levels of human rights abuses, with 77 per cent of those traveling along the Central Mediterranean route reporting direct experiences of abuse, exploitation, and practices which may amount to human trafficking – IOM, the UN Migration Agency and UNICEF said today (12/09) in a new report.
Harrowing Journeys shows that while all migrants and refugees are at high risk, children and youth on the move are far more likely to experience exploitation and trafficking than adults aged 25 years and above: nearly twice as likely on the Eastern Mediterranean route and at a rate 13 per cent higher on the Central Mediterranean route.
Aimamo, a 16-year-old unaccompanied child from the Gambia interviewed at a shelter in Italy, described being forced into months of gruelling manual labour by traffickers upon his arrival in Libya. “If you try to run, they shoot you. If you stop working, they beat you. We were just like slaves. At the end of the day, they just lock you inside.”
The report is based on the testimonies of some 22,000 migrants and refugees, including some 11,000 children and youth, interviewed by IOM.