Africa > Southern Africa > Botswana > Children on the move from Africa do not first aim to go to Europe, new UNICEF study shows

Botswana: Children on the move from Africa do not first aim to go to Europe, new UNICEF study shows

2017/07/29

Children on the move into Europe from Africa take the decision to leave home on their own and do not initially intend to go to Europe. For the majority the systematic trauma and abuse they witnessed or suffered in Libya caused them to flee to Europe and take the terrifying Central Mediterranean sea route, according to a new study commissioned by UNICEF and carried out by REACH.

As a lot of as 75 % of the refugee and migrant children interviewed in Italy as part of the study, took the decision to embark on the journey alone. The journey itself can take a staggering two years or additional for children. One of the key reasons children give for leaving home was violence at home but as well deprivation and conflict. Child marriage was as well reported as the major reason for leaving by 1 in 5 of all girls interviewed. Children’s journeys to Europe were often fragmented and their destination changed along the way.

“What is striking about this study is it shows for the initial time that there are overwhelmingly far additional reasons that push children to leave their homes, than has been before understood, and fewer pull factors that lure them to Europe,” said Afshan Khan UNICEF Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia.

The aim of the study, a partnership between UNICEF and REACH, is to provide decision makers, partners and governments with evidence on what drives children to flee their nations and homes. The interviews were conducted in the two major gateways into EuropeItaly and Greece – with a total 850 children, between the ages of 15 and 17 years old.

Refugee and migrant children in Italy unanimously reported their time in Libya as the majority traumatising part of their journey on land. Almost half of them (47 %) reported to have been kidnapped for ransom in Libya, and one in four children (23 %) reported to have been arbitrarily arrested and held in prison without charges. The majority come from various nations in sub-Saharan Africa but some are from as far afield as Bangladesh.

“For those who did aim approaching to the continent, the allure of Europe was the luck of furthering their education, respect for their rights and getting ahead in life. However once they reach Europe the reality is sadly completely different and their expectations are shattered,” said UNICEF’s Afshan Khan.

In Greece the survey showed that one in three parents or caretakers said that seeking education for their children was the major reason they left their nations for Europe. However the survey of refugee and migrant children revealed that lengthy procedures and confusion about their rights have led to a lot of children dropping out of the Italian and Greek reception systems, losing out on education and exposing them to high risks of abuse and exploitation.

Of the 12,239 children who arrived in Italy in the initial six months of this year, 93 % travelled alone.

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