GENEVA: The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) warned on Friday that women and child migrants and refugees are at risk of suffering from both abuse and sexual violence when on the move in Europe.
“The number of testimonies has increased over the last few weeks, which is why we are going public with our concerns,” UNHCR spokeswoman Melissa Fleming explained.
Based on a number of credible testimonies, the UN Refugee Agency said that women and children are confronted with risks both before arriving in Europe and once on EU shores.
This is especially the case in overcrowded reception centers or in places where migrants and refugees gather, such as parks, train and bus stations as well as roadsides as these are often overcrowded, lack adequate lighting and separated spaces for single women and families with children.
“I’ve heard very disturbing testimonies of children having to engage in survival sex,” Fleming added, adding that though these are usually carried out by smugglers, most exploitation is undertaken by criminal gangs who abuse vulnerable refugees along the way.
In light of these trends, UNHCR called on all governments concerned to ensure that satisfactory measures are taken to protect those populations on the move who are particularly vulnerable.
Thirty-four percent of refugees and migrants arriving in Europe are estimated to be women and children. PNA/Xinhua