300,000 unaccompanied refugee children risk perilous journeys

The number of children travelling alone globally has increased five-fold since 2010, with the result that many are being forced into slavery and prostitution.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

UNICEF has called on all countries to uphold the rights of unaccompanied minors.

Hundreds of thousands of unaccompanied children attempted to cross borders to seek safety over a two-year period. This marks a dramatic escalation of a trend that has forced many young refugees into slavery and abuse, UNICEF said on Wednesday.

report from UNICEF reveals that over 300,000 children moved across borders without adult supervision in some 80 countries in the combined years of 2015 and 2016, up from 66,000 in 2010 and 2011.

"One child moving alone is one too many, and yet today, there are a staggering number of children doing just that – we as adults are failing to protect them," said UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Justin Forsyth

Ruthless smugglers and traffickers are exploiting their vulnerability for personal gain, helping children to cross borders, only to sell them into slavery and forced prostitution. It is unconscionable that we are not adequately defending children from these predators — UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Justin Forsyth

UNICEF says the system is failing these children and others like them. It's calling on all countries to uphold the rights of unaccompanied minors, abolish child refugee detention and help those on the move stay healthy and in school.

TRT World's Sarah Morice has more on the plight of these child refugees.