According to the United Nations, 289 children are reported to have perished in the first half of 2023 while attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.
The UN organization for children, UNICEF, reported that the number is twice what was seen in the first half of 2022 and urged the expansion of safe, accessible, and legal paths for children to seek refuge in Europe.
The true numbers are probably higher, according to Verena Knaus, UNICEF’s global head on migration and displacement, as many shipwrecks in the central Mediterranean either have no survivors or are not reported.
“The number of children who have lost their lives while attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe has doubled in the first half of this year compared to the same period last year,” she said.
“These deaths are absolutely preventable.”
According to Knaus, nearly twice as many children crossed the border in the first half of 2023 as they did in the same period in 2022, an estimated 11,600.
Additionally, during the first three months of 2023, 3,300 kids — or 71 percent of all kids who entered Europe via the central Mediterranean route — were either unaccompanied or separated.
The amount is triple what it was at the same time period last year.