Step up action before more tragedies unfold in the Mediterranean

 

Step up action before more tragedies unfold in the Mediterranean

Iraq, February 2014.  Amira wrapped up in blanked inside the family tent in the Domiz refugee camp in Northern Iraq.
(children's names have been changed)

Notes from the field:

We saw a small boy (Hakim, 3 – name changed) peeping out of a worn tent. Inside, we met his mother (Fatema) and younger sister, along with a pregnant family friend. The two women are friends and neighbours in the camp. They have been in Domiz for a year.

o	Life in the camp: They were worried about the condition of their tents. The most afraid of the storms in Domiz because their tent won’t withstand it. They said they were “worried, lonely, cold, tired and a bit fed up because there were things like no nappies”. Being pregnant in the camp is difficult and the pregnant mother isn’t having regular check-ups. They said the water provision was really good and that they had enough (UNICEF) blankets. They have been getting clean water and that was good.

o	Leaving Syria: The families left Syria because their husbands were being threatened with conscription and joining the military. Their husbands left Syria urgently. The pregnant mother’s husband had to go without her or the children, leaving her to follow, with her little boy and only the items she could get on the donkey. Hakim’s family walked for three hours in the Winter to escape (at the time Hakim was 2 years old and his sister was just 5 months).

o	Life in Syria was terrifying. They talked about the explosions and about seeing men who had been slaughtered. Some of their friends had family members, where they had been slaughtered and then the family had been sent a video afterwards. There were also incidences of kidnapping of women as well. 

o	In Hakim’s home in Syria they had planted onions and enjoyed eating them – they can’t do this any more. The children didn't understand anything that was happening in Syria, but they were still very frightened by the noises. They talked about how husbands would go out to get bre

© UNICEF/UN02435/Schermbrucker

NEW YORK/ HONG KONG, 20 April 2015 – “Reports of tragedies on the Mediterranean Sea – leaving hundreds of people, including children, dead or missing – are becoming all too frequent and the human cost all too high.

“Two deadly incidents in just two days on the Mediterranean Sea stress the need for swift, collective and courageous action. Thousands have made perilous journeys to Europe – from men and women, sometimes entire families in search of safety and opportunities in Europe to teenagers and young children – fleeing brutal conflicts back home such as in Syria. At least 1,600 have died so far this year before even stepping foot on European soil.

“Children who find themselves on these journeys are exposed to abuse, exploitation and possibly death and, if they survive, are often placed in unsafe and unsuitable conditions and / or criminalized. This is in violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“We ask that all actions are guided by the best interests of every one of these children, every step of the way. No matter their refugee or migrant status, children are to be cared for in a safe place – and not in a detention facility – with access to education, health, social and legal services with full implementation of existing safeguards especially for the most vulnerable.

“With the start of the warmer weather in Europe when numbers of migrants are likely to rise, decisive action could avoid more senseless deaths. This means following the EU’s existing safeguards for unaccompanied minors, strengthening search-and-rescue capacities to save and protect lives, prosecuting human traffickers, and tackling the root causes of migration in countries of origin – conflict, poverty and discrimination – to avoid more tragic losses.”