Many of more than 10,000 missing migrant children are feared to have become victims of sex trafficking rings or the slave trade business. Europol’s Chief of Staff Brian Donald commented that the migrant children vanished in Europe during the past two years and that the unaccompanied minors became easy prey for criminal gangs that wasted no time in snapping up the kids.
Sunday’s report by Europol that thousands of migrant children went missing after having been registered with state authorities is a horrific aspect in the refugee crisis. According to a February 2 Euronews report, “Europol has alerted the authorities to an aspect of the migrant crisis ignored until now; the fact that 10,000 children have gone missing, and will be easy targets for human traffickers.”
Europol, the European Union’s police agency, estimates that 27 percent 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 Europol’s Chief of Staff Brian Donald.
According to Save the Children International, currently around 1,000 people are landing on the Dodecanese islands every day with the majority of them Syrians seeking sanctuary in Europe. Last year, an estimated 26,000 unaccompanied children entered Europe – and the numbers are growing.
“Vulnerable children, particularly those sleeping outside alone or locked in large mixed groups in cramped detention centres, are at risk of trafficking, sexual exploitation and physical abuse.”
From the moment the minors enter European soil to even after having been registered in one of the European countries, keeping track of thousands of unaccompanied refugee children is a daunting task. In Italy, 5,000 children vanished and at least another 1,000 are unaccounted for in Sweden. In Britain, the number of missing children has doubled.
“It’s not unreasonable to say that we’re looking at 10,000-plus children. 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,” said Brian Donald. The missing children are “lost in the system.”
Brian Donald confirmed that Europol has discovered that some of the missing refugee children have been sexually exploited by sex trafficking rings. Other missing migrant children have been found to be working as cheap labors in European countries.