A child being taken off a boat in Brindisi, Italy | Photo: ARCHIVE/CARLO FERRARO/ANSA
A child being taken off a boat in Brindisi, Italy | Photo: ARCHIVE/CARLO FERRARO/ANSA

Half the refugee population worldwide are under 18, Caritas reports. 300,000 of these children and teenagers are without their families.

Every day an average of 44.4 people are forced to leave their homes. Worldwide, there are about 30 million refugees. Roughly half of them are children under the age of 18. Some 300,000 of them are unaccompanied minors. These numbers were published by the Italian branch of the Catholic charity Caritas in a recent report. 

'Many do not receive the minimum assistance necessary'

In European Union member states, unaccompanied foreign minors account for 15 percent of asylum seekers under 18. Of them, 89 percent are male. 

"Once having arrived in Europe through illegal ways, many of these unaccompanied minors do not receive the minimum assistance necessary... First and foremost protection from abuse and violence," Caritas said. "There are not enough suitable reception facilities, qualified workers able to help them, educational programs designed for that that limit the risk of alienation and exploitation, and interpreters and cultural mediators able to facilitate relations between the assistance system and minors." 

The army of the invisible 

Caritas said that the most worrisome result of this lack of assistance and reception in Europe for migrants under age 18 is the "army of the invisible" - those that have disappeared. In Italy alone, some 4,307 migrant minors have gone missing, according to Caritas. It added that some have probably gone home and others may have fled Italy when they turned 18. 
 

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