Syrian refugees land in Italy
One million children flee conflict, many to Europe26 August, 17:52
They were aboard a ship at sea about 40 miles south of the Sicilian coastal town of Porto Palo.
Twenty-five children and eight women were aboard.
The Syrian refugees were among hundreds this weekend alone from distressed countries - Tunisia, Eritrea and Somalia - who risked their lives in dodgy vessels to be rescued near or found on Italian shores.
Syrians have featured all summer long among migrants daring the sea from various parts of the Middle East and Africa, who are generally placed by Italian authorities in migrant detention centres for identification, processing, and possible expulsion.
On a visit to the migrant island of Lampedusa last month, Pope Francis asked God to forgive European policy makers' indifference while hailing immigrants' efforts to seek better lives. He also asked to mourn the many lives lost at sea. Last week the UNHCR and UNICEF in Geneva said one million children have fled fighting in Syria, about three quarters of whom are under age 11.
In the words of UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres, the survival and well-being of an entire generation of innocent children is at stake. "The youth of Syria are losing their homes, their family members and their futures. Even after they have crossed a border to safety, they are traumatized, depressed and in need of a reason for hope," he added.
Children account for over half of the two million refugees who have fled Syria to Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt. Syrians are arriving in North Africa and, embarking across the sea to Europe ever more often. The price paid by Syrian children in the conflict - now in its third year - is enormous. In addition to the one million child refugees, there are some two million displaced children in Syria.
The UN estimates that at least 7,000 children have been killed in the conflict, while child refugees are often exposed to threats such as forced labour, early marriage and sexual exploitation.