10,000 Migrant Children Missing in Europe, EU Police Agency Says
Thousands of children who migrated to Europe in the last two years cannot be found, according the European Union’s police agency Europol.
Also, the agency’s human trafficking database includes some suspected smugglers of migrants, which suggests that some of the missing might be vulnerable to exploitation.
Europol’s chief of staff, Brian Donald, told The Observer that 5,000 children had disappeared in Italy and 1,000 more were unaccounted for in Sweden.
“It’s not unreasonable to say that we’re looking at 10,000-plus children,” he said. “Not all of them will be criminally exploited; some might have been passed on to family members. We just don’t know where they are, what they’re doing or whom they are with.”
Over 1 million migrants entered Europe last year. Many are refugees from Syria, where the people contend not only with a gruesome civil war but also the threat of Islamic State.
From The Guardian:
The plight of unaccompanied child refugees has emerged as one of the most pressing issues in the migrant crisis. Last week it was announced that Britain would accept more unaccompanied minors from Syria and other conflict zones. According to Save the Children, an estimated 26,000 unaccompanied children entered Europe last year. Europol, which has a 900-strong force of intelligence analysts and police liaison officers, believes 27% of the million arrivals in Europe last year were minors.
“Whether they are registered or not, we’re talking about 270,000 children. Not all of those are unaccompanied, but we also have evidence that a large proportion might be,” said Donald, indicating that the 10,000 figure is likely to be a conservative estimate of the actual number of unaccompanied minors who have disappeared since entering Europe.
In October, officials in Trelleborg, southern Sweden, revealed that some 1,000 unaccompanied refugee children who had arrived in the port town over the previous month had gone missing. On Tuesday a separate report, again from Sweden, warned that many unaccompanied refugees vanished and that there was “very little information about what happens after the disappearance”.
Mariyana Berket, of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), said: “Unaccompanied minors from regions of conflict are by far the most vulnerable population; those without parental care that have either been sent by their families to get into Europe first and then get the family over, or have fled with other family members.”
Donald confirmed Europol had received evidence some unaccompanied child refugees in Europe had been sexually exploited. In Germany and Hungary, the former a popular destination country for refugees and migrants, with the latter an important transit state, large numbers of criminals had been caught exploiting migrants, he said. “An entire [criminal] infrastructure has developed over the past 18 months around exploiting the migrant flow. There are prisons in Germany and Hungary where the vast majority of people arrested and placed there are in relation to criminal activity surrounding the migrant crisis,” said Donald.
Read more here.
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