Two children die and another two still missing in deadly shipwrecks off Libya’s coast

From Lana Wreikat Acting Special Representative, UNICEF Libya

23 December 2021
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TRIPOLI, 23 December 2021 – “Children continue to lose their lives amid attempts to cross the Central Mediterranean, one of the most dangerous and deadliest migration routes in the world.

“Just this week, two children were found dead off Libya’s shores and another two are still missing due to three shipwrecks. At least 70 people drowned while another 100 are still missing.

“The past year has been especially harsh. We saw an increase of 25 per cent in the number of people who perished off Libya’s shores in comparison to 2020.

“Despite immense perils, many families continue to risk their lives in search for a better life for them and their children as poverty and unemployment levels increase exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We call for support to migrants and refugees and to strengthen search and rescue mechanisms. We also call to address the route causes of migration and support safe migration for children and young people through expanding safe and legal pathways.

“UNICEF will continue to work with partners towards finding a safer alternative to sea crossing and long-term solutions for children attempting to cross the sea”.



Notes to Editors:

  • At least 31,456 people have been returned to Libya in 2021. This represents more than a three-fold increase from 2020. The increasing number of interceptions raises concerns over the protection of children and adults returned to Libya. The vast majority faces detention and high protection risks, including heightened exposure to abuses and violence.
  • UNICEF continues -in coordination with the authorities and UN agencies- to be present in detention centres and disembarkation points, to provide assistance to vulnerable migrants and refugees who are rescued and returned to Libya.
  • In 2021, at least 509 people died at sea while 831 continue to be missing. In 2020, there were 381 deaths and 597 missing persons.
  • Libya has nearly 60,000 migrant and refugee children including 1,195 unaccompanied and separated children.
  • UNICEF is providing support to migrants and refugee children to get education, health and child protection services including psychosocial support through the child-friendly spaces including ‘Baity’ centres in Tripoli, Sehba and Mistrata.

Media contacts

Juliette Touma
Regional Chief of Advocacy and Communications
UNICEF Middle East and North Africa Regional Office
Tel: 00962798674628
Salim Oweis
Communication Officer
Tel: 00962799365212


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