NGO Claims Migrant Youths Subjected to ‘Horrific’ Violence by People-Smugglers

Migrants camp in tents next to the border fence at the Serbian Kelebija border village nea

A report published this week by Save the Children has claimed that minor migrants travelling along the Balkan illegal immigration route have been subjected to “horrific” violence by people-smugglers, border police, and others.

The report claims that all minors travelling the Balkan route to illegally enter the European Union suffer some sort of abuse, with the youths themselves claiming that the most common abuse comes from border police officials, while people-smugglers engage in even more serious abuse of youngsters, including killing them or leaving them in situations in which they are unlikely to survive.

One 19-year-old described the horrific abuse from people-smugglers, saying: “While travelling on a boat in the dark, when the police must not see or hear us, one of the children started crying in the mother’s arms. The smuggler took the child from the mother’s arms and threw him overboard to silence the child or to protect himself.”

“The mother started arguing with him, tried to scream, and then the smuggler pushed her overboard as well and nobody knows where they are now. It is a true story nobody knows about,” she added.

Similar deaths have been reported in recent months, including a man who was said to have been left to die in a rural area of Albania by people-smugglers along the Balkan route near the border with Montenegro. More recently, two children aged just one and two years old reportedly died of thirst aboard a boat that eventually landed in Italy.

According to the report, children travelling along the Balkan route are also often exposed to sexual abuse, with people-smugglers forcing minors into sex work. Yhe vast majority, two-thirds, claim to have either witnessed or know of sexual abuse of children.

“Children on the move in search of safety in Europe – who have a right to seek international protection – are often forced to rely on smugglers as their only hope to cross borders, and these smugglers abuse them as well,” Save the Children Europe director Ylva Sperling said.

“The EU and governments must take immediate action. They should provide refugee and migrant children with access to safe, regular and legal migration routes so that they no longer have to face the ordeals documented in this report,” Sperling added.

Illegal migrant activity along the Balkan route has surged this year, according to the European Union border agency Frontex, which stated earlier this year that the number of illegals entering Europe along the route had increased by 167 per cent compared to 2021.


Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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