Fewer than one in five migrants head for Europe, UNICEF says

Report says those who come to Italy make up 2.5% of migrant flow

05 July, 18:10

    (ANSAmed) - ROME, 5 LUG - Each year in central and western Africa, children and adolescents represent over half of the 12 million people who migrate, while about 75% of migrants remain in sub-Saharan Africa and fewer than one in five head for Europe, according to a report by UNICEF titled "In Search of Opportunities: Voices of children on the move in West and Central Africa". The report analyses the reasons behind child migration and displacement at a regional level and the possible long-term consequences for the region. Irregular migrants arriving in Europe through Italy (56,533 migrants in 2015) represent just 2.5% of the migrant flows towards Europe, according to UNICEF, which is asking world governments to adopt its six-point "Agenda for Action" to protect refugee and migrant children.

    Africa has 11 of the 25 poorest countries in the world The UNICEF report provides a series of statistics that illustrate the migration situation: 11 of the 25 poorest countries in the world are in central and west Africa, and in the past 20 years there have been 25 large conflicts in the region. It is estimated that migrants have sent 33 billion dollars in remittances to their families in sub-Saharan Africa; the African population will double by 2050 and by 2100 it is estimated to reach four billion; 100 million people in the region live in cities of less than one metre above sea level and the predicted rising of sea levels could cause the forced displacement of millions of climate refugees. Children moving in record numbers “Children in West and Central Africa are moving in greater numbers than ever before, many in search of safety or a better life,” said UNICEF Regional Director Marie-Pierre Poirier. “Yet the majority of these children are moving within Africa, not to Europe or elsewhere. We must broaden the discussion on migration to encompass the vulnerabilities of all children on the move and expand systems to protect them, in all their intended destinations," she said. The report suggests that migration that involves children and young people from central and west Africa will probably increase due to a combination of factors: rapid population growth and urbanization, unequitable economic development, persistent conflict, weak governance and climate change. The report calls on policy makers to "put children at the centre of any response to migration". The six action points that UNICEF is urging governments to adopt are: protect child refugees and migrants, particularly unaccompanied children, from exploitation and violence; end the detention of children seeking refugee status or migrating, by introducing a range of practical alternatives; keep families together as the best way to protect children and give children legal status; keep all refugee and migrant children learning and give them access to health and other quality services; press for action on the underlying causes of large scale movements of refugees and migrants; and promote measures to combat xenophobia, discrimination and marginalisation in countries of transit and destination.

    In addition to this "Agenda for Action", UNICF has launched a campaign titled "#AChildIsAChild", to call for solidarity with refugee and migrant children. UNICEF Italy is promoting the petition "For Every Lost Child", addressed to the European Union, to call for the protection of rights and access to basic services for underage refugees and migrants.

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