According to an investigation, nearly 17 child migrants on a per-day basis have been vanishing in Europe since 2018. It also points out that about 18,000 or more unaccompanied child migrants have disappeared after arriving in European countries. These European countries also include Greece, Italy and Germany.
According to an investigation, by the Guardian and the cross-border journalism collective Lost in Europe nearly 18,292 unaccompanied child migrants recorded as missing in Europe between January 2018 and December 2020. This is as per the data collected on missing unaccompanied minors from 27 EU countries, as well as Norway, Moldova, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
As per the investigation, the missing kids were predominantly Moroccan, Algerian, Guinean, Eritrean and Afghani. It is also to be noted that amongst the missing child migrants, 90% were boys and on average one in six were younger than 15 years of age.
The data for 2020 is even more shocking. About 5,768 children disappeared from 13 European countries in 2020 alone. The research study points out the lack of response and preventive measures taken by the European leaders towards the safety of unaccompanied child migrants.
Some of the possible reasons for this could be the vulnerability of unaccompanied migrant kids that is being attacked by criminal organisations. These criminal organisations most often target these kids for child labour and sexual exploitation. They are also pushed into the vicious cycle of forced begging and human trafficking.
Another major reason for such shocking a number is the lack of proper guidelines and systems and procedures in a place that helps kids get international protection. Family reunification is also one of the growing issues with this group.
The data has been extremely crucial in understanding the severity of the problem in Europe.
“The high number of missing children is a symptom of a child-protection system that doesn’t work,” Federica Toscano, head of advocacy and migration at Missing Children Europe said. She added, “Very little is recorded in a file of a missing migrant child.”
This investigation raises some prominent questions and major issues. The true numbers are expected to be much higher than this. It also questions the seriousness and the procedure that must be in place while dealing with sensitive cases and reports such as these.
While this issue is on the rise, experts note that cross-border cooperation is nearly non-existent.
According to figures released by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), more than one million refugees reached European shores in 2015. Over 3,700 people either died or went missing navigating their journey through the continent.