600 children have died in the Mediterranean this year
At least 600 children have died trying to cross the Mediterranean so far this year, Save the Children has found.
The toll, from a new analysis of data by the charity, means that two children a day on average died or disappeared between January 1 and September 26.
The figures have been released to coincide with the third anniversary of a shipwreck off the coast of Lampedusa, Italy, in which more than 300 people were killed.
Kevin Watkins, CEO of Save the Children said: "Today, we remember the 368 refugees and migrants who tragically lost their lives off the coast of Lampedusa on October 3rd 2013, trying to reach the safety of Europe's shores. Three years ago, European leaders promised 'never again' as images of the shipwreck and coffins were brought to international attention. But since then, more than 10,400 men, women and children have died or gone missing trying to reach Europe by sea.
"The Mediterranean sea has become an unmarked grave for children fleeing war, persecution and extreme poverty. Just this year, we estimate that at least 600 children have died crossing the sea –a rate of two a day. The international community cannot continue to ignore these tragedies - we have an obligation to protect children, be it here in Europe or during their treacherous journeys."
Save the Children has worked at Italian ports for more than eight years, helping keep lone children safe when they arrive on land and has recently extended its operations to help save lives at sea. Search and rescue vessel, Vos Hestia, has already saved more than 600 people in less than one month, including 85 children - some younger than five years old.
For more information or interviews, please contact Valentina Bollenback on +39389 5155908 or +447770 940 519 / firstname.lastname@example.org
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Notes to editor
- Save the Children estimates that at least 600 children have died from 1st January 2016 - September 26th 2016 - which is approximately 2.1 per day.
- More than 3,500 people have drowned in the Mediterranean this year – almost 600 people more compared to the same period last year.
- More than 20,600 child refugees and migrants have arrived in Italy since 1st January 2016, of whom 18,400 are unaccompanied.