LONDON, June 19 (UPI) -- The humanitarian organization Save the Children Fund said Thursday the 58,000 refugees who have arrived in Italy this year include 9,000 minors.
The non-government organization, based in London, noted in a report released Thursday the majority of the minors traveled to Italy without accompaniment of an adult.
Italy has been the disembarking point for many refugees, primarily from the Middle East and North Africa, seeking relief from war, poverty, drought and famine. Welcoming refugees is a regulation among European Union nations, and Italy and its surrounding islands typically provide the nearest access point.
Refugees often arrive in unseaworthy and overcrowded boats after paying exorbitant fees to travel, and the Italian navy and police routinely assist in maritime rescues and escorts of ships to port.
The itemized report noted 1,542 children, with an average age of five, have fled the civil war in Syria thus far in 2014. Of the 9,000 reported minors entering Italy, only about one-third were in the company of an adult. It added rescuers have reported seeing ships carrying children and teenagers, and few adults.
Save the Children Fund released its report in anticipation of World Refugee Day, and added it has produced an awareness campaign called "Bereket's Journey," in which a fictional Eritrean teenager tells his story of attempting to reach Europe without money or documentation.