Focus on children's interests urged in tackling migrants in Mediterranean

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Young girl sits with her mother on Lampedusa Island, three days after they were rescued at sea. UNHCR/Francesco Malavolta

The international community is being urged by the UN children's agency to ensure that the interests of children are protected when dealing with migrants who cross the Mediterranean Sea on smugglers boats.

UNICEF made the call following the recent tragic deaths of migrants who drowned as they attempted to get to Europe.

Cathrine Hasselberg reports.

UNICEF says there is a real necessity to intensify efforts in the Mediterranean Sea to avoid tragedies like the one seen over the weekend where hundreds of migrants died when the boat they were on capsized.

The UN children's agency is appealing for action that focuses on the best interests of children in dealing with the problem of smuggling migrants to Europe.

It points out that sometimes entire families, including children are on board smugglers' boats, fleeing brutal conflicts at home and in search of safety and opportunities in Europe.

UNICEF Spokesperson, Christophe Boulierac says children who find themselves on these journeys are exposed to abuse, exploitation and possible death and if they survive they are sometimes criminalized.

"This is in violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  So we ask, UNICEF, that all actions are guided by the best interest of each of these children every step of the way.  No matter their refugee or migrant status, children should be cared for in a safe place and not in a detention facility." (20")

UNICEF says children should have access to education, health, social and legal services.  

Cathrine Hasselberg, United Nations

Duration: 1’12″

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