So far this year, 31,456 migrants have been rescued and returned to Libya, while hundreds others died and went missing off the Libyan coast.
On Thursday, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) revealed that at least 70 undocumented migrants died from drowning and 100 others went missing this week off the Libyan coast.
"Children continue to lose their lives amid attempts to cross the Central Mediterranean, one of the most dangerous and deadliest migration routes in the world," said Lana Wreikat, the UNICEF acting special representative in Libya.
"Just this week, two children were found dead off Libya's shores and another two are still missing due to three shipwrecks. At least 70 people drowned," she added, and called for support to the migrants and refugees and to strengthen search and rescue mechanisms.
Wreikat also underscored the need to address the route causes of illegal migration and to support safe migration for children and young people through expanding safe and legal pathways. UNICEF will continue to work with partners towards finding a safer alternative to sea crossing and long-term solutions for children attempting to cross the sea.
From January to September 2021, it was estimated that 1,369 migrants died while crossings the Mediterranean Sea. ... However, the accurate number of deaths recorded in the Mediterranean Sea cannot ascertained pic.twitter.com/5afWdaXzst— RED SOS REFUGIADOS #refugeesGR (@sosrefugiados) December 20, 2021
Libya has been plagued by insecurity and chaos since the fall of the late leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, making the North African country a preferred point of departure for illegal migrants who want to cross the Mediterranean Sea to reach European shores.
So far this year, 31,456 migrants, including women and children, have been rescued and returned to Libya, while hundreds others died and went missing off the Libyan coast on the Central Mediterranean route, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
"Inmigrants caught by the Libyan coast guard were returned to detention centers that torture, rape and beat migrants and use them for forced labor... UN investigators said the abuse of migrants in Libya could be considered a crime against humanity," the Ohio Star recalled.