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The latest data estimates that around half of all refugees worldwide are under 18 years old. In 2015, nearly 100,000 children who lodged an asylum request were unaccompanied, meaning they were not assisted or represented by their parents or any other adult. In Italy, according to the UNHCR, the number of unaccompanied children has risen significantly in 2016, and now makes up 15 percent of all arrivals.

The Italian reception system has proved inadequate in protecting lone refugee and migrant children and their rights. During the first six months of 2016, 5,222 unaccompanied children were reported missing, having run away from reception centres. They have become invisible, under the legal radar and are therefore even more vulnerable to violence and exploitation.

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