NEW YORK, 14 July 2023 -- At least 289 children are estimated to have died or disappeared this year attempting to cross the perilous Central Mediterranean Sea migration route from North Africa to Europe, according to UNICEF. This equates to nearly eleven children dying or disappearing every week as they search for safety, peace and better opportunities.
Since 2018, UNICEF estimates around 1,500 children have died or gone missing while attempting the Central Mediterranean Sea crossing. This number accounts for 1 in 5 of the 8,274 people who have died or gone missing on the route, according to IOM's Missing Migrant Project records.
Many shipwrecks on the Central Mediterranean Sea crossing leave no survivors or go unrecorded, making the true number of child casualties practically impossible to verify and likely much higher. In recent months, children and babies have been among those who have lost their lives on this route, on other routes across the Mediterranean and on the Atlantic route from West Africa, including the recent tragedies off the coasts of Greece and Spain's Canary Islands.