The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) reported on Friday that at least 500,000 children have used the services of traffickers to enter Europe illegally since January 2015.
The estimate is based on data from Europol, Interpol and information from other UN agencies, EFE news reported.
UNICEF spokeswoman Sarah Crowe explained that the calculation is based on the fact that nearly 590,000 minors have filed an application for asylum in the European Union in those 18 months.
As many as 100,000 of these asylum applications were filed by unaccompanied children, although Crowe added that the figure should be higher because of the different registration systems in countries.
Given this figure and the fact that Europol-Interpol believes that 90 per cent of journeys made by refugees in Europe are done with the help of traffickers, UNICEF has concluded that half a million children used their services.
Interpol estimates that human trafficking earns between $5-6 billion a year.