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A report indicates that at least 18,000 unaccompanied child migrants have disappeared since arriving in European countries in a time span shorter than two years.
An investigative report cited by the Guardian concludes that some 18,292 children have vanished across the European continent between January 2018 and December 2020 – an astonishing average of 17 kids a day.
Figures for the year 2020 indicate that as many as 5,768 children disappeared in over a dozen European countries, including Greece, Italy, and Germany. The data available also shows that one in every six of these children was traveling alone and was aged under 15 years of age. Nearly 90 percent were boys.
The majority of the children came from Morocco and other countries of origin included Algeria, Eritrea, Guinea, and some from Afghanistan.
The investigation, which collected data on missing unaccompanied minors from all 27 EU nations and Norway, Moldova, Switzerland, and Britain, indicated that the actual figures could be much higher. Spain, Belgium, and Finland provided data only up to the end of 2019. Denmark, France, and the UK provided no data at all.
In March 2019, a media report found that at least 60 Vietnamese children had disappeared from Dutch shelters. They had been reportedly trafficked into Britain to work on cannabis farms and in nail salons. Children advocacy groups say the latest findings raise serious questions about the extent to which European countries were willing to protect unaccompanied child migrants.
Federica Toscano, head of advocacy and migration at the Missing Children Europe, said those kids were among the migrants most vulnerable to violence, exploitation, and trafficking. “The high number of missing children is a symptom of a child-protection system that doesn’t work.”
“Criminal organizations are increasingly targeting migrant children,” said Toscano, “especially unaccompanied ones, and many of them become victims of labor and sexual exploitation, forced begging and trafficking.”
Herman Bolhaar, the Dutch national rapporteur on human trafficking, said, “We cannot lose sight of these children.” “They deserve our protection.”
According to figures released by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), more than one million refugees reached European shores in 2015, while over 3,700 people either died or went missing in their perilous journeys to the continent.
#FromTheSouth News Bits | A senior official from the #WHO reported that 1.6 million cases of Covid-19 are reported each week in Europe, where the death toll has already exceeded one million. pic.twitter.com/MoL5Kn6Yn7