18,000 refugee children missing in Europe since 2018: report

More than 18,000 migrant and refugee children missing in Europe since 2018: report
2 min read
21 April, 2021
Tens of thousands of migrant children have gone missing in Europe in just two years, a cross-border journalism collective has revealed.
Tens of thousands of children have disappeared in Europe [Getty]

Tens of thousands of refugee children have gone missing in Europe, a new report by cross-border journalism collective Lost in Europe has revealed.

The "unaccompanied foreign minors", as they are referred to, are thoguht to be at high risk of exploitation.

The report found that 18,292 unaccompanied refugee children and adolescents disappeared across Europe between 2018 and 2020.

The actual number of missing children is thought to be significantly higher.

Germany, France, Denmark and Romania are just some of the European countries where a large portion of the children have gone missing.

In Germany, most refugee children and young people who "disappear" come from Afghanistan, and then Morocco and Algeria, according to Lost in Europe.

Between 2018 and 2020, at least 7,806 unaccompanied minors were reported missing, and of that number 724 children have not been found.

Holger Hofmann, federal managing director of the German Children's Fund, called the quality of German statistics a "scandal," RBB reported.

"As far as we know there are no reliable figures at all, not even approximations, of how many refugee children are affected by multiple registrations or inaccurate data collection," Hofmann said.

"These kinds of gaps obviously create opportunities for criminal networks."

Another issue relates to how missing children are reported to authorities, cross-border cooperation and following up with cases.

"Very little is recorded in a file of a missing migrant child," head of advocacy and migration at NGO’s Missing Children Europe, Federica Toscano, said. "And too often it is assumed that a migrant child is somewhere safe in another country, although cross-border collaboration on these cases is practically non-existent."

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