The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says the number of unaccompanied migrant children crossing dangerous seas to Europe has increased by 60 percent this year.
UNICEF says that more than 11,000 children have crossed the Mediterranean Sea. This institution calls for a broad European response to support refugee children and families.
The UN agency says children are often held in detention centers when they arrive in Europe, with more than 22,000 held in Italy alone.
In this regard, the unfortunate situation of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea has been put on the agenda at the meeting of the heads of nine southern European countries that has just started in Malta.
The United Nations says more than 2,500 people have died or gone missing during the journey this year — more than 180,000 have made it.
In this meeting, proposals to increase naval patrols, with military ships, will probably be discussed to bring back migrants. The leaders will also review ongoing efforts to pay North African countries to stop migrants from leaving their countries.
In recent years, with the increase of economic crises or insecurity caused by war in the Middle East and Africa region, migration to Europe has intensified. One of the ways to migrate and seek asylum is the sea, which has caused unfortunate and heartbreaking incidents. Sea routes are generally dangerous and human traffickers generally use small boats to transport asylum seekers.
In some cases, these boats overturned in the middle of the journey and a number of migrants drowned, many of whom were citizens of Afghanistan and Iran.
Over the past five years, more than 100,000 migrants have reportedly used small boats to cross the English Channel from France to Britain.
In February this year, a refugee boat sank off the coast of southern Italy, killing at least 60 people, including 12 children. Italian media reported that the passengers were citizens of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
In August this year, another boat sank in the English Channel, and the six people who died were Afghans.
Recently, Italy’s far-right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said that the migration crisis will jeopardize the future of Europe.
Officials attending the Malta meeting have said they expect an agreement on Europe’s migration crisis in the coming days, although Italy has asked for more time to review the text.