UNICEF published a report this week on the abuse and hardship suffered by women and children attempting to make the journey from Africa to Europe. The Central Mediterranean migrant route from North Africa to Italy, one of the most dangerous in the world. In 2016 alone, 181,000 people attempted the journey; an estimated 1 in 40 died along the way. So far this year over 300 have perished.
UNICEF found that half of the women and children they interviewed reported being sexually assaulted and raped on their journey. They also reported beatings and physical abuse by the smugglers and people traffickers who control the route. The main route involves attempting to cross from Libya, where many people are first held in unofficial detention camps run by the traffickers and where they are kept in inhumane conditions. Unless action is taken to ameliorate the drivers of this route, we will continue to stand and bear witness as more children suffer the same fate.