Increase in migrant children traveling alone worries U.N.

UNICEF, the United nations Children’s Fund, has seen a fivefold increase in migrant children traveling alone since 2010.

The group has counted 300,000 solo migrant children in the past two years. Some 170,000 came to Europe. More the 90 percent of migrant children arriving in Italy came alone.

About 100,000 were counted at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Another 90,000 were displaced by conflict and drought in the Horn of Africa.

The number of solo migrant children has increased fivefold in the past seven years.

Afshan Khan, UNICEF special coordinator, Refugee and Migrant Crisis in Europe, announced the release of a major report on the growing problem.

“It’s a global snapshot of the motivations behind their journeys, the risk that refugee and migrant children face along their journeys and the risks that don’t end once they arrive in Europe,” she said. “Often it’s just the beginning of another journey of uncertainty.”

Children migrate alone for many reasons. Perhaps their parents could not afford to travel with them. Some of them got separated from an adult guardian.

All of these children are at risk of being kidnapped into slavery or forced prostitution.

The Group of Seven industrialized nations will be meeting in Taormina, Sicily, Italy on May 26–27. Afshan Khan hopes they will address the issue.

“We know that there are very divided opinions on how to tackle migration,” she said, “but we hope that the one thing that leaders can unite around is caring for vulnerable children and they agree to put aside the politics of migration and see these children first and foremost as children.”