• Italy's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Thousands of Syrian children alone in Italy

AFP · 19 Jun 2014, 13:02

Published: 19 Jun 2014 13:02 GMT+02:00

Of the over 58,000 people who have made the perilous journey from the coast of North Africa across the Mediterranean, 3,160 were unaccompanied minors, the organization said in a report titled "From Syria to Europe, fleeing the war."

The majority of the accompanied minors - many of whom were under five years old - were Syrian, and most were landing in Italy after long and dangerous journeys though Libya, where they are exposed to "persecution, theft, threats and violence."

Most Syrian families arriving "are middle class professionals, businessmen, shopkeepers, farmers" who "fled Syria one or two years ago on a costly journey, often passing through Lebanon and Egypt," where many spend months "in precarious conditions".

"In Libya we were molested, they told us to leave...we decided to go, to die at sea was better than the hell we were living there," 15-year-old Nadia from Homs was cited as saying.

At the start of June, the organization said around a third of minors registered on arrival in Italy were then dropping off the radar, and Italian charities have warned that they may be at risk of falling into the clutches of organised crime groups or organ traffickers.

Photo: A child is helped aboard an Italian Navy vessel.

Italy's commissioner for missing persons, Vittorio Piscitelli, in April said the missing minors "could end up in the hands of human traffickers, or groups of paedophiles. And we cannot disregard the abominable practice of organ trafficking."

Raffaele Milano, programme director for Save the Children in Italy, said "a solution must be found as soon as possible to avoid other unaccompanied minors leaving the reception centres, becoming 'invisible' and exposing themselves to the risk of exploitation or violence".

The Save the Children report, published on the eve of World Refugee Day, also included data on women, 5,300 of whom made the crossing since the start of the year to June 17th.

Favourable weather conditions mean that thousands of other migrants are expected to attempt the crossing in the coming weeks.

Story continues below…

Gil Arias Fernandez, the head of Frontex, the European Union border coordination agency, said recently that "hundreds of thousands" of migrants were currently in Libya and hoping to leave as soon as possible because of growing lawlessness.

Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano estimated that number at between 400,000 and 600,000 people.

Watch a video of a rescue operation in the Mediterranean, featuring an interview with a Syrian child:

For more news from Italy, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Pope wants to visit quake-hit villages
’I hope to come and see you,’ the pope said. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto /AFP

Pope Francis said Sunday he wanted to visit some of the central Italian villages devastated in this week's earthquake, as survivors and rescue workers dug in for the long haul with winter approaching.

Why quake-hit Amatrice will never be the same again
Amatrice had been due to host its Amatriciana pasta festival this weekend. Photo: Angela Giuffrida

The Lazio town of Amatrice was the hardist-hit by Wednesday's devastating earthquake. The Local's Angela Giuffrida visited what is left of the town on Friday.

Italian flags at half mast for quake victims
More than 280 people were killed in the 6.2-magnitude earthquake that struck on August 24. Photo: Andreas Solaro /AFP

Flags flew at half mast across Italy on Saturday as the country observed a day of mourning for the victims of an earthquake that killed nearly 300 people.

Italy earthquake
Italy prepares to mourn earthquake dead
Collapsed buildings in Amatrice. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

No survivors have been found since Thursday.

Italy earthquake
Rescuers search for 15 still missing in Amatrice
A suitcase in the rubble of a collapsed home in Amatrice. Photo: Angela Giuffrida/The Local

A team of specialist rescue workers from Shanghai is searching for 15 people unaccounted for in Amatrice, the Lazio town torn apart by Wednesday's devastating earthquake.

Italy earthquake
Italy’s museums offer takings to restore quake-hit region
A damaged church in Amatrice. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

Italy's museums will donate all money raised from ticket sales on Sunday to help restore cultural treasures damaged or destroyed by Wednesday’s 6.0 magnitude in central Italy.

Italy earthquake
Food the only comfort for Italy’s earthquake survivors
A refugee dines at a makeshift camp in central Italy. Photo: Mario Laporta/AFP

"Because even in these dire cases it's important to give a good meal to those who have lost everything."

Italy earthquake
In pics: Makeshift shelters house Italy's quake survivors
An earthquake victim beds down at a makeshift shelter in Amatrice. Photo: Marco Zepatella/AFP

An estimated 2,500 people have lost their homes following the 6.0 magnitude earthquake which hit central Italy on Wednesday.

Italy earthquake
Strong aftershock rattles devastated Amatrice
An aftershock measuring 4.8 struck Amatrice again on Friday morning. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

The small town of Amatrice was hit by another aftershock, measuring 4.8 in magnitude, on Friday morning, causing more damage in the centre of the town where at least 193 were killed in Wednesday’s devastating earthquake.

Italy earthquake
Three Britons among dead in Italy earthquake
Rescuers continued their search for bodies on Friday morning. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

At least eight foreigners, including three Britons, a Spanish national, a Canadian and a citizen from El Salvador, were among the 250 people killed when a powerful earthquake struck central Italy this week, officials said, as rescuers continued the grim search for corpses on Friday.

Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
National
Why discontented Italians could derail their economy
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Society
Keep passports safe: Typical pickpocket scams revealed
Culture
Why coffee in Italy is a culture you must taste to understand
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Society
The richest families in Florence in 1427 are still rich today
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Culture
So why do pasta-loving Italians live such long lives?
National
Italy's Renzi prepares for stormy autumn
Society
This 104-year-old just saw the sea for the first time
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
National
Should Rome give up on its 2024 Olympic dream?
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Society
The Italian doctor giving hope to thousands of migrants
Culture
Ten 'Italian' dishes that don't actually exist in Italy
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Sport
Five Italian athletes going for gold at the Rio Olympics
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Travel
Trastevere: From a fiery past to Rome’s souvenir stand
Politics
Think Trump would be a disaster? Just ask the Italians
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
National
How Brexit has helped to expose Italy’s banking malaise
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Politics
After Brexit, keep a close eye on Italy's Five Star Movement
Lifestyle
12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Italy
National
Why Milan could be Europe's post-Brexit financial hub
Travel
Five crowd-free alternatives to Italy's tourist hotspots
National
Italian hotspots struggling with 'too many tourists'
Culture
Meet the Italian chef behind the world's best restaurant
2,495
jobs available