A teen’s shattered dream trying to reach Europe

“I wanted to spread the word: Libya is so dangerous”

By Angela Hawke
Lamin, a 16 year old boy who left
UNICEF/Gambia
18 July 2017

Sixteen-year-old Lamin is determined to put his own terrible experience to good use – warning other teen migrants from Gambia about the risks that await them if they try to reach Europe.

With his family facing serious money problems, Lamin set off from Gambia across the desert to Libya in the hope of eventually reaching Europe and a better life.

But in Libya he was kidnapped and imprisoned for seven months, until his family could pay a ransom for his release.

He is now home, and working hard to educate other young people about the dangers of the route to Europe through Libya. Deprived, unprotected and often alone, young people on the move are easy prey for traffickers and others who abuse and exploit them.

Lamin and his friends are now creating an organization to help migrants who have returned, particularly those who cannot find work. “Our goal is to help one another for a better future”, he says.

UNICEF works to tackle the problems that lead to migration.
 

As well as working to support refugee and migrant children and adolescents who make it to Europe, UNICEF works in their countries of origin to ease the poverty, lack of education, violence, conflict and insecurity that drive them to leave in the first place. In every country, from Gambia to Afghanistan, we strive to ensure that all children are safe, healthy, educated and protected.

Our support for the protection of adolescents like Lamin against exploitation is part of our Agenda for Action for refugee and migrant children which aims to change attitudes in every country.

  1. Protect child refugees and migrants, particularly unaccompanied children, from exploitation and violence.
  2. End the detention of children seeking refugee status or migrating.
  3. Keep families together as the best way to protect children and give children 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.

We must all stand with #ChildrenUprooted.