Migrants: UN, 2 children drown every day in Aegean

IOM, UNICEF and UNHCR warn of rising death toll

19 February, 17:28

    (ANSAmed) - GENEVA, FEBRUARY 19 - Since September 2015, two children have died every day in the waters of the eastern Mediterranean while trying to get to Europe with their families.

    The figure was announced on Friday in Geneva by the United Nations Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Hugh Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

    They added that the number of children dying in attempting the crossing was rising. The part of the Aegean Sea between Turkey and Greece is one of the most lethal routes for refugees and migrants and since September - when a photo showing the lifeless corpse of a toddler named Aylan went viral and drew greater sympathy towards those attempting it - at least 340 children including many infants have drowned in the eastern Mediterranean. The true death toll may be much greater.

    UNICEF director Anthony Lake said that ''countries can and must cooperate to make such dangerous journeys safer. No one puts a child in a boat if a safer option is available.'' ''These tragic deaths in the Mediterranean are unbearable and must stop,'' said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi. ''Clearly, more efforts are needed to combat smuggling and trafficking. Also, as many of the children and adults who have died were trying to join relatives in Europe, organising ways for people to travel legally and safely, through resettlement and family reunion programmes for example, should be an absolute priority if we want to reduce the death toll," he added. During the first six weeks of 2016, at least 410 migrants and refugees of the 80,000 who tried to cross the eastern Mediterranean drowned. (ANSAmed).

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