Sicily, Italy (CNN)The 13-year-old boy looks off into the distance. He is slight of build with pale, almost yellowy eyes. When you see him you feel as if he has seen far too much already.

He is carrying a burden far too heavy for his age — but despite his ordeal so far, smuggled across continents from Africa to Europe, and now living in a care home, his future could be far worse depending which route he takes next.

A CNN investigation spent months retracing the smuggling route from Egypt to Italy. Speaking to social workers and authorities, children and parents, there is evidence that many of the children were smuggled into Italy by the same criminal networks, who once they are in country, use them for illegal activities.

The Egyptian government agency charged with advising lawmakers on child protection matters told CNN that they believe in some cases the parents are guilty of trafficking, paying for their own vulnerable children to be smuggled so far from home in the hope of securing the family’s future.

We were interviewing this Egyptian boy and his friends in the picturesque piazza of a small Sicilian town.

They came over to Italy together on an Egyptian smuggler ship. He was 12 at the time and crammed in with hundreds of others.

He says his parents paid 35,000 Egyptian pounds (about $4,500) for the privilege, never guessing what it would really be like — tossed around for nine days, surrounded by vomit, and scared, uncertain what would meet them on shore…… etc.


Parents seem to send the children to earn someway money to send back to them in Africa

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