Shipwreck: Europe Cannot Stand By and Watch — Too Many Children Are Caught Up in this Dangerous Exodus

Fairfield, Conn. (April 19, 2014) — Save the Children is urging EU leaders to convene crisis talks in the next 48 hours at leader level to restart the search and rescue operation that ended late last year, following today's report of another mass drowning in the Mediterranean.

Following the tragic news of today's latest shipwreck, Valerio Neri, Director General of Save the Children Italy, says:

"We cannot stand by and watch while thousands of people lose their lives to follow their wish: to find a better life far from war, dictatorships and poverty. According to media reports from today, about 700 people have died, and given the percentage of minors who have arrived in recent landings, we predict that there were children amongst the latest fatality figures."

"We can't pretend nothing is happening. With the number of people dying at sea, not only in Italy but in all of the European Union, this means that the responsibility of the search and rescue response must be solved by the EU and all its members, especially as we predict that situation will get even worse in the next few months."

The conditions of the boats being used by traffickers is becoming even worse; they are overcrowded, and the violence of traffickers towards migrants, who are forced to leave despite conditions of the sea, is worsening by the day. Some children who recently landed told Save the Children staff that the boats they were in were shot at in order to make them leave.

It is critical to guarantee that survivors of the shipwrecks receive the adequate support they require to deal with the tragedy they have witnessed. Of the utmost importance is to guarantee a search and rescue system in order to respond to the essential needs of all arriving migrants, in particular the most vulnerable, and especially unaccompanied minors and families with children.

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.

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.
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