UN warns Libya exposed as an epicentre for migrant child abuse
Feb.28, Mediterranean: The United Nations has warned that large numbers of children are still risking their lives to make the dangerous journey from Libya to Italy.
Unicef says almost 26,000 children - most of them unaccompanied - crossed the Mediterranean last year.
In its new report, Unicef says many children suffer from violence and sexual abuse at the hands of smugglers and traffickers. But they rarely report their abuse, for fear of arrest and deportation.
The agency also says there is a lack of food, water and medical care in Libya's detention centres.
The plight of children, many of them unaccompanied by parents, has become a tragically familiar part of the wider story of mass migration over the past two years. But while much has been said about the extreme dangers faced at sea, the privations experienced on land, especially in Libya, are less familiar.
Girls such as nine-year-old Kamis, who set off with her mother from their home in Nigeria. After a desert crossing in which a man died, followed by a dramatic rescue at sea, they found themselves held at a detention centre in the Libyan town of Sabratha.
Much of the violence is gratuitous, and much of it is sexual.
"Nearly half the women and children interviewed had experienced sexual abuse during migration," the report says. "Often multiple times and in multiple locations."
The Oslo Times International News Network