Forty-two Gambian minors categorized as ‘unaccompanied and separated children’ (UASC) by the United Nations Refugee Agency have reached Italy via the Mediterranean Sea, the agency has said on Monday.
The Gambian children were among a recorded figure of 747 children that arrived in Italy between 1 January and 28 February 2018.
The Gambia has been one of the leading producers of migrants from Africa crossing the Med Sea to Europe.
The UNHCR regional office for Southern Europe said the children represent 14% of all sea arrivals in this period.
However, the current figures represent a drop from last year. The UNHCR said the same period last year, 1,875 minors were registered at landing points.
Consistently with the overall decrease in sea arrivals, UASC arrivals have dropped by 60%
The arrivals commonly originated from Eritrea (241), followed by Tunisia (100), Guinea (52), Côte d’Ivoire (50), Somalia (47), and the Gambia (42), UNHCR said on Monday.
In 2018 so far, relatively higher proportions of UASC were recorded among arrivals from Sierra Leone (41% were UASC), Somalia (39%), The Gambia (39%), Guinea (29%), and Côte d’Ivoire (24%).
Arrivals from Senegal also include a significant 14% of UASC.
Most UASC arriving by sea are boys and are 16 and 17 years old, the agency said, adding that the exact figures on gender of UASC arrivals are currently unavailable.