400 Missing, including Many Children, as Boat Capsizes on Route to Italy

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Francine Uenuma 202.450.9153 (M)

Fairfield, Conn. (April 14, 2015) — Rescue operations continue in Italy today after a boat carrying 550 people capsized 24 hours after departing Libya. According to the testimonies collected by Save the Children — who helped survivors at a port in Reggio Calabria — as many as 400 people are still missing, many of whom are thought to be unaccompanied children.

Save the Children warns that more landings are expected as instability continues in Libya, raising concerns that many more children will brave the perilous journey to find safety in Italy.

Save the Children has been responding to the needs of children arriving in Lampedusa, Sicily, Calabria and Apulia and is deeply concerned at the reports of violence experienced and witnessed by children in Libya.

While not one of today’s survivors, one 17-year-old boy recently described his journey to aid workers when he reached safety.

“We lived near Tripoli for four months in a sardine factory. There were more than 1,000 of us. We ate only once a day and we could not do anything. If anybody spoke with a friend or a neighbor, they were beaten up. All this, to extort money from us. They made you call home, saying you were dying, and in the meantime they beat you up so that your family could hear the screams,” said Brahane*, a 17-year-old Eritrean boy after landing in Sicily.

The last incident follows a sharp rise in the number of migrants arriving on the shores of Italy.

“Rescue at sea of migrants must be a priority for Italy and for Europe, and the European Union should strengthen its capacity for search and rescue missions, as more people risk and lose their lives making these perilous journeys,” said Save the Children’s President and CEO Carolyn Miles. “Children arriving have experienced harrowing journeys and are in desperate need of psychological support. Adequate care and protection should be provided to all children, in particular those who have suffered violence.”

Every day, children around the world are severely affected by crises and events which are out of their control. No one knows when, or where, the next crisis will occur. For nearly 100 years, Save the Children has been on the front lines of emergency and humanitarian responses around the world. Our Children’s Emergency Fund was established to provide assistance to children in their time of greatest need.

Save the Children invests in childhood — every day, in times of crisis and for our future. In the United States and around the world, we give children a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

*Not child's real name

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