A Deadly Journey for Children

UNICEF Child Alert on the Refugee and Migrant Crisis: The Central Mediterranean Route.

A young migrant gestures from behind the bars of a cell at a detention centre in Libya.


Refugee and migrant children and women routine suffer sexual violence, exploitation, abuse and detention as they make their way along the Central Mediterranean migration route from North Africa to Italy, warns UNICEF in this Child Alert bulletin from February 2017. A Deadly Journey for Children: The Central Mediterranean Migrant Route examines the extreme risks facing refugee and migrant children during the perilous journey from sub-Saharan Africa into Libya and across the sea to Italy. A survey of refugee and migrant children found that 75 per cent had experienced violence, harassment or aggression at the hands of adults at some point during their journey, while nearly half of the women and children interviewed reported sexual abuse during migration – often multiple times and in multiple locations. 

UNICEF is urging governments and the European Union to adopt and support a six-point agenda for action for children uprooted. 

  1. Protect child refugees and migrants, particularly unaccompanied children, from exploitation and violence.
  2. End the detention of children seeking refugee status or migrating by introducing a range of practical alternatives. 
  3. Keep families together as the best way to protect children and give them legal status.
  4. Keep all refugee and migrant children learning and give them access to health and other quality services.
  5. Press for action on the underlying causes of large-scale movements of refugees and migrants.
  6. Promote measures to combat xenophobia, discrimination and marginalization in countries of transit and destination.
A Deadly Journey for Children report cover
Publication date

Files available for download