Tripoli — CHILDREN'S rights groups have appealed to European countries to protect the rights of children who have made the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean Sea.
The minors are among thousands detained in Libya, abused along trips via the Mediterranean or persecuted upon reaching Europe.
Calls by Save the Children for the protection of youngsters came as EU Ministers of Justice and Home Affairs convened to discuss the European Union's (EU's) migration policies.
The non-governmental organisation supports migrant and refugee children in Italy and Spain, where they have mostly arrived from Africa.
Nearly 30 000 children arrived at EU zones in 2018, representing one-fifth of total migrant arrivals.
"We witness the anxiety, fears and disorientation children suffer after being detained in Libya and experiencing distress at sea. The lives of these children and their families should be non-negotiable," said Anita Bay Bundegaard, EU Director and Representative for Save the Children.
Bundegaard said EU member states should prioritise the lives of migrants and asylum seekers crossing the Mediterranean, among whom are many children, and cooperate to ensure timely and safe disembarkation of rescued persons.
The EU meeting comes as negotiations on which member state is responsible for asylum-seekers arriving to the EU, also known as the Dublin regulation, have stalled.
"We call on the European Ministers attending this week's Justice and Home Affairs Council to show that they want to move Europe out of this stalemate and put the safety and dignity of children first," Bundegaard said.