UN: 36,000 Migrant Children Need Help in Libya

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Flag of the United Nations. Photo: sanjitbakshi/Flickr

U.N. agencies said Monday that some 36,000 migrant children, nearly 15,000 of whom are unaccompanied, require assistance in Libya.

“Out of an estimated 400,000 migrants, nine percent are children and, shockingly, more than 14,000 children are also unaccompanied,” a release by the U.N. Children’s Fund and International Organization for Migration said.

According to U.N. estimates, more than 400 children have died since the start of the year attempting to reach Italy by sea traveling across the Central Mediterranean from Libya.

“Many more have suffered abuse, exploitation, enslavement and detention,” the release, prepared to mark International Migrants Day, said.

The two relief agencies said they had agreed on an “action plan” to increase support to migrant children in Libya. They intend to focus on child protection, education, water, sanitation, and health.

“Migrant children are some of the most vulnerable people in Libya and today’s agreement with IOM is essential in our work to reach them and uphold their rights,” Abdel-Rahman Ghandour, UNICEF Special Representative in Libya, said.

“We will be able to collectively work to ensure that all children, no matter their status, are able to gain an education, be protected and receive the basic services they deserve,” he added.

In 2018, the IOM plans to repatriate 30,000 migrants as part of a voluntary return program.