CAIRO (AP) – Libyan authorities rescued a total of 125 children connecting to Europe at sea this week on the Mediterranean coast, the UN child welfare agency said on Friday, adding that most had been taken to detention facilities.
The children included 114 unaccompanied minors on the dangerous sea route from Europe to war and poverty.
“Most of the survivors are being sent to overcrowded detention centers in Libya in extremely difficult conditions with no or limited access to water or health services. “Almost 1,100 children are in these centers,” the statement said.
UNICEF has called on the Libyan authorities to release all children and end the detention of migrants.
Since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and assassinated longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi, war-torn Libya has become a predominant transit point for migrants fleeing Africa and the Middle East.
“The Central Mediterranean remains one of the deadliest migration routes in the world,” said UNICEF, adding that at least 350 people, including children and women, had drowned or gone missing in the Mediterranean since January.
Last week, 130 migrants from Europe went missing in the sinking of the deadliest ship off the coast of Libya in the Mediterranean since the beginning of the year.