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Immigrant Minors in Italy are Prey for Criminal Networks - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Turin – On his journey from Egypt’s al-Qalyubia governorate to Italy’s city of Turin, teenager Ahmed had to endure a kidnapping in Egypt’s western desert, which he had to cross on foot to reach the Libyan border.

He then lost a friend who could not survive the arduous trip across the Mediterranean to Europe. The boy vomited until he died and the human smugglers threw his body in the sea amid the outrage of the passengers.

“They told us not to speak and anyone who does will be thrown into the sea,” Ahmed said.

His family had paid tens of thousands of Egyptian pounds to smuggle him to Italy where he could benefit from the lenient rules they have on immigrant minors. His hardships however did not end with his arrival to Turin.

“We slept on the streets a lot. This is the biggest regret of my life. We are tired here. Every day we see things that make us hate our lives,” said Ahmed.

Majallah magazine is examining in its latest edition the case of immigrant minors, whose numbers from Egypt alone reach 9,000 a year. The United Nations children agency, UNICEF, revealed that in 2016, over 25,000 children crossed the Mediterranean. Nine out of ten of these minors were not accompanied by their parents.

Interviews conducted by Majallah with a group of those immigrants shed light on criminal networks that are targeting them, especially at parks. They are exploited in the drug trade and prostitution.

A team of Italian doctors, that examined a number of unaccompanied minors, revealed that 50 percent of them had contracted sexually transmitted diseases, which highlights that gravity of the tragedy they are facing.