Spain has stepped in to accept a rescue ship carrying 629 migrants, including 123 unaccompanied children and seven pregnant women after Italy and Malta refused permission for the ship to dock in its ports.
The case has again highlighted the unacceptable risks faced by migrants, particularly unaccompanied children. For some 300,000 unaccompanied child refugees, the risks of trafficking and forced prostitution or forced labour are extremely high. We know that in the Mediterranean, more than 75% of the 1,600 14 to 16 year-olds arriving in Italy reported being held against their will or forced to work. This staggering statistic is why we should be working to ensure that there are accessible, legal pathways which allow children to apply for asylum safely, and not be forced to take dangerous journeys to join their families.
Given the scale and complexity of the unprecedented global movement of people we are experiencing, it is perhaps unsurprising that we are struggling to see the issues with clarity, and to respond with compassion. At Legatum Institute, we believe that all people, regardless of whether they feature in migration, refugee or trafficking statistics should have the opportunity to create their own pathway to prosperity, able to fulfil their vast potential in a safe and secure environment.
The challenge of accommodating the current levels of displacement has become too great for existing approaches, placing the social and economic systems in host countries under significant strain. Next week, we will publish the first report of our Global People Movements programme, asking what we can do to address these challenges, and provide better support for some of the world’s most vulnerable people.