12. September 2017 · Kommentare deaktiviert für „Three out of four child refugees trying to reach Europe face ‚appalling‘ levels of exploitation, report finds“ · Kategorien: Lesehinweise · Tags: , ,

The Independent | 12.09.2017

Under-25s nearly twice as likely to becoming trafficking victims than adults, findings show

May Bulman

More than three quarters of child refugees trying to reach Europe are facing “appalling” levels of human rights abuses along the central Mediterranean route, a new study has revealed.

Of nearly 1,600 child refugees aged 14-17 who came to Italy through the Mediterranean during the second half of 2016, 77 per cent reported direct experiences of abuse, exploitation and practices which may amount to human trafficking.

Survey results from early 2017, based on the testimonies of some 22,000 refugees, indicate that the situation might be worsening – with 91 per cent of children reporting such experiences.

The report, co-produced by Unicef, the International Office for Migration (IOM) and the UN Migration Agency, shows that children and young people on the move are nearly twice as likely to experience exploitation and trafficking than adults aged 25 years and above on the eastern Mediterranean route.

One 17-year-old Nigerian girl reported being raped and held prisoner in a house in Tripoli, before being threatened once she sought help. An Afghan boy, 16, reported being forced to work on a farm in Libya, where he was “beaten with a cane” if he stopped working, to pay his smugglers.

Children and youths travelling alone or over longer periods, as well as those possessing lower levels of education, were also found to be highly vulnerable to exploitation at the hands of traffickers and criminal groups over the course of their journeys.

According to the report the central Mediterranean route is particularly dangerous, with most of the refugees passing through Libya, which remains riven with lawlessness, militias and criminality.

It comes amid a surge in the number of youngsters pursuing routes to Europe in recent years, with at least 300,000 unaccompanied and separated children moving across borders having registered in 80 countries last year – a near fivefold increase from 66,000 in 2010–2011.

Unaccompanied and separated children made up 92 per cent of all under-18s arriving in Italy via the central Mediterranean Sea passage from North Africa in 2016, and the figure remained at this level through the first two months of 2017 – up from 75 per cent the year before.

Most of these children came from Eritrea, the Gambia, Nigeria, Egypt and Guinea. Ninety-two per cent of children who arrived in Italy in 2016 and the first two months of 2017 were unaccompanied – up from 75 per cent in 2015.

The children indicated that they had been held against their will or forced to work – or had agreed to work for pay, and then were not paid. A smaller number told researchers they had been offered arranged marriage or cash for blood, organs or body parts.

Smugglers may offer refugees, including children moving on their own, a “pay as you go” deal – asking for no money up front, but later demanding sums children may not be able to pay. Children may subsequently be forced to work off their “debts” under conditions akin to contemporary forms of slavery and under threats of violence.

Speaking to researchers at a shelter in Italy, 16-year-old Aimamo, an unaccompanied child from the Gambia, described being forced into months of gruelling manual labour by traffickers following his arrival in Libya.

“If you try to run, they shoot you. If you stop working, they beat you. We were just like slaves. At the end of the day, they just lock you inside,” he said.

Another youngster, 17-year-old Mary* from Nigeria, told of how she left her country to escape a life with no prospects, but found herself being sexually exploited at the hands of a man who had promised to help her.

The man threatened to hand her over to someone else and leave her in Libya, then raped her. She was then held prisoner in a house in Tripoli with several other girls and young women, deprived of food and with no one to contact for help. “I wanted to get away, but I couldn’t – I had no money, no phone. I didn’t even know where I was to escape,” she said.

Karim, 16, from Afghanistan, ran out of money while on his way to Europe, so to fund his journey he spent eight months making T-shirts and pants for a textile manufacturer in Istanbul, Turkey.

It was “backbreaking work”, the report states, requiring him to lift crates weighing 40-50 kg. He worked 14- to 15-hour days six days a week until he earned the 3,000 euros he needed to move on.

The findings reveal there are racial trends in the exploitation of unaccompanied minors, with those originating from sub-Saharan Africa being considerably more at risk. Racism is likely a major underlying factor behind this discrepancy, according to researchers.

Children from sub-Saharan Africa were more than four times more likely to experience exploitation and trafficking than those from other parts of the world along the Eastern Mediterranean route – at 65 per cent compared with 15 per cent.

The discrepancy also exists along the central Mediterranean route, with 83 per cent of sub-Saharan African children subject to exploitation or trafficking, compared with 56 per cent of others.

The report has prompted renewed calls for all concerned parties − countries of origin, transit and destination, the African Union, the EU, international and national organisations with support from the donor community – to prioritise a series of actions.

These include establishing safe and regular pathways for children on the move, strengthening services to protect refugee children, finding alternatives to the detention of children on the move, working across borders to combat trafficking and exploitation, and combating xenophobia, racism and discrimination against all refugees.

In light of the findings, Afshan Khan, Unicef Regional Director and Special Coordinator for the Refugee and Migrant Crisis in Europe, urged EU leaders to establish protections for child refugees.

“The stark reality is that it is now standard practice that children moving through the Mediterranean are abused, trafficked, beaten and discriminated against,” he said.

“EU leaders should put in place lasting solutions that include safe and legal migration pathways, establishing protection corridors and finding alternatives to the detention of migrant children.”

Eugenio Ambrosi, IOM’s Regional Director for the EU, Norway and Switzerland, said: “For people who leave their countries to escape violence, instability or poverty, the factors pushing them to migrate are severe and they make perilous journeys knowing that they may be forced to pay with their dignity, their wellbeing or even their lives.

“Without the establishment of more regular migration pathways, other measures will be relatively ineffective. We must also re-invigorate a rights-based approach to migration, improving mechanisms to identify and protect the most vulnerable throughout the migration process, regardless of their legal status.”

Lily Caprani, Deputy Executive Director of Unicef UK, said Britain has a “crucial” role to play, saying: “This is a global problem but the UK has a crucial role to play in preventing such dangerous and traumatising journeys in the first place.

“If we are serious about protecting these children, the UK must change its own family reunion rules so that children do not have to attempt to reach Europe to be reunited with loved ones. This simple move could save lives, and avoid children falling into the hand of traffickers and smugglers.”

[Download Report here]

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New York Times | 12.09.2017

Sub-Saharan African Migrants Face Old Enemy in Libya: Bigotry

DAKAR, Senegal — When Kalilu Drammeh arrived in Libya he was in many ways similar to thousands of other migrants from across Africa, all of them desperate to cross the sea to get to Europe and, they hoped, a better life.

But in Libya, Mr. Drammeh, like many other people from his native Gambia and other sub-Saharan countries, stood out among the swirl of migrants and was an automatic target for abuse for one obvious reason: his skin color is darker.

Libyan smugglers call them “burned,” a racial epithet sometimes used in the country for people whose skin color is black. And while many of the migrants who pass through Libya hoping to set sail for Italy are beaten and otherwise abused by smugglers, Mr. Drammeh believes his treatment was especially harsh because of his skin color.

Fellow Muslims — even children — refused to let him pray alongside them. “They think they’re better than us,” Mr. Drammeh, who is 18, said by phone from a refugee camp in Italy. “They say we’re created different from them.”

For Africans like Mr. Drammeh, few legal paths for migration exist, so tens of thousands use smugglers to help them cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe. To pay off the fees, which can be as steep as $5,000, many migrants crossing the sea’s central route spend months working under harsh conditions and abuse in Libya, a country plagued by lawlessness and violence since the fall of the former dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi.

This year more than 132,000 migrants and refugees have crossed the Mediterranean to land in Europe — all of them facing huge risks along the way. More than 2,300 drowned or were missing after setting off from the northern coast of Libya, and many others are in Libya waiting to cross.

Some migrants are even more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation than others, a new report from Unicef and the International Organization for Migration says. Among those at particular risk, according to the report, are people traveling alone, those with low levels of education, children of any age and migrants who have endured long journeys.

But people from sub-Saharan Africa are most vulnerable of all, simply because of their skin color, the report says.

“It’s a brutal, terrible reality, but young people need to know the risks before deciding to go,” said Christopher Tidey, a Unicef spokesman. “Bottom line: This proves how essential it is that migrant and refugee children have access to safe and legal migration pathways.”

The report is one of the first attempts to use both anecdotes and quantitative research to document the abuse of migrants based on a variety of factors, including country of origin. It analyzes the testimony of some 22,000 migrants and refugees trying to cross the Mediterranean, focusing on those who are age 14 to 24.

The report offers an example: An adolescent boy from sub-Saharan Africa, even one who has secondary education and travels in a group along the Central Mediterranean route, faces a 75 percent risk of being exploited. If he came from another region, where skin tones are lighter, the risk would drop to 38 percent, it says.

“Countless testimonies from young migrants and refugees from sub-Saharan Africa make clear that they are treated more harshly and targeted for exploitation because of the color of their skin,” the report says.

Tensions between North Africans and sub-Saharan Africans have long existed.

In numerous sub-Saharan African countries, unemployment is soaring, prompting young men and women to leave home to get to Europe, where they hope to find work. Recent statistics have shown that the migrant flow to Europe has slowed, but no one is certain why. Analysts have cautioned that the lull is unlikely to be permanent.

The report says that while young people are at greater risk than adults regardless of where they cross the Mediterranean, those who cross from Libya are in the greatest danger. In Libya, “they contend with pervasive lawlessness and violence and are often detained, by state authorities and others,” it says.

Even before migrants arrive there, their journey across sub-Saharan Africa typically includes a treacherous trip through the desert in cramped buses or trucks.

In Libya, work and living conditions are grim. Women have reported being forced to work as prostitutes to earn money for the trip across the sea. Many men say they are beaten and even shot at by smugglers. Traffickers have locked up some migrants, forcing them to call home to have relatives pay ransoms to secure their release.

Sheku B. Kallon, a Sierra Leonean migrant who now resides in a camp in Italy, said smugglers charge people who have black skin more money for the trip. Traffickers justify the steep fees because they face more difficulties taking black people through Libya, where discrimination is common, he said.

Mr. Kallon said that while in Libya, smugglers hid him and a group of other black migrants by covering them with plastic sheets in the back of a truck. Even with the cover, the traffickers were so worried about being seen ferrying black people they took them through series of bypasses to get to Tripoli, he said.

Once in Libya, Mr. Kallon and his friends managed to find odd jobs from Libyan Arabs. But they were paid less because of their skin color, he believes. And sometimes they were not paid at all.

“I don’t think there is a place as bad as Libya,” he said.

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