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The number of unaccompanied minors has doubled since 2105, reaching almost 25,000.
Almost 180,000 migrants have been rescued off the coast of Libya, a new record in this area of the Mediterranean.
These are the figures of the annual report of activity of the Italian Coast Guard, which coordinates the rescue work in the central Mediterranean,
In total, 179,624 people landed in the ports of Italy, and the majority of them were men (more than 127,500). Unlike last year, in 2016, there were more children (28,019) than women (23,932), and one of the main concerns is that the arrivals of unaccompanied minors have doubled: 24,929 this year compared to 12,360 in 2015.
AMOST 25,000 UNACCOMPANIED MINORS
The emergency of the unaccompanied minors is one of the most urgent challenges of the migration crisis. The protection of children is one of the strongest claims of NGOs.
The stories are repeated daily. The last one was on 11 December, when Médecins Sans Frontières announced that a woman gave birth to a baby aboard ship Aquarius, after being rescued from a boat about to sink. They called him "Favour."
"May Europe treat this sweet boy and her proud mother with the kindness they deserve", the organisation said in its Twitter account.
— MSF Sea (@MSF_Sea) 12 de diciembre de 2016
DETERIORATION OF TRAVEL CONDITIONS
The death rate has also increased: in 2016 at least 4,646 people died in the central Mediterranean, compared to 3,522 in 2015. This is due, in part, to the deterioration of the conditions of the journeys.
Among the main problems, the coast guards pointed out that the boats are becoming more and more crowded. "The boats that once carried 100 migrants now have more than 200 people, so that the probability of shipwreck grows", the report said.
Additionally, the trips were undertaken "with adverse maritime conditions and during the night hours" and the migrants are not using mobile phones by satellite as they used to do, which is the only way to call for help.
Without these devices, they cannot ask for help or be located and they only have the option of waiting for a helicopter to see the drifting vessel and mobilize the rescue team, which can take several hours to come.
FOUR RESCUE OPERATIONS PER DAY
Throughout the year, there were 1,400 rescue operations, an average of almost four per day and 55% more than in 2015. All of them were coordinated by the Italian Coast Guard, responsible for the 500,000 square kilometers of sea, the place where the rescues take place.
They run the operations and participate in the rescues. They have helicopters with nocturnal search capacity, more than 500 patrol boats with anti-capsize system that allows them to operate in the sea with wind of force 8.
But they are not the only ones that rescue people in the sea. The Italian Military Navy, the ships of the community mission EUNAVFORMED – which aim to fight the illegal immigration business - and several NGOs, such as Médecins Sans Frontières, SOS Mediterranèe, Save the Children or MOAS, also work with them.