UN: Libya is epicentre for migrant child sex abuse
UNICEF's latest report 'A Deadly Journey for Children', documents how children suffer slavery, violence and sexual abuse from smugglers, traffickers and officials.
Libya's migrant detention centres are beset by chronic shortage of food, water and medical supplies.
Migrant children/women suffer widespread sexual assault in Libya
Children are "brutalized, raped, killed"
"What really shocked UNICEF staff and me... is what happens to them [children] on this route," says Justin Forsyth, the organization's deputy executive director. "Many of these children have been brutalized, raped, killed on" the route from Libya to Italy.
Half of all women/children African migrants experience sexual abuse
"Nearly half the women and children interviewed had experienced sexual abuse during migration," the report says. "Often multiple times and in multiple locations" as they made their way from Africa to Europe.
"Sexual violence was widespread and systemic at crossings and checkpoints," it added.
"Approximately one third [of those interviewed] indicated they had been abused in Libya."
Love World news?
Stay updated with the latest happenings.
Nearly a third of all migrants are children
Last year, over 80,000 migrants crossed from Libya to Italy, according to the UN. Of these, nearly 26,000 were children, most of whom were unaccompanied by parents. The journey across the Mediterranean is dangerous with several boats overturning leaving thousands dead.
Victims reluctant to report abuse, fear arrest/deportation
Women and children who suffer abuse are reluctant to report these incidents for fear of arrest or deportation as many of their assailants are government officials.
Most of Libya's 34 known migrant detention centres are government run.
However, "the detention centres run by militias, we're much more worried about," a UNICEF official said. "That's where a lot of abuse is happening."
Migrants sometimes forced into flesh trade to repay smugglers
The migrants are deeply dependent on smugglers to take them through Africa's desert and the Mediterranean Sea into Europe.
These smugglers are linked with human traffickers so migrants find themselves forced into prostitution to repay debts if they can't compensate smugglers.
"Libya is a major transit hub for women being trafficked to Europe for sex," the report says.
Female migrants forced to take extreme steps
Incidents of rape and sexual enslavement are so common that some female migrants who embark on the journey to Europe take precautions. This include getting contraceptive injections and carrying emergency protection.
Trump promises "renewal of the American spirit" in Congress speech
Trump seeks to hike US defence spending by 10%