Human Lives Human Rights: Thousands of children who lost their parents while migrating to Europe fall prey to human traffickers or the organ mafia in the countries they visit.
The whereabouts of refugee children who fled Ukraine due to Russia’s war are unknown.
Although international non-governmental organizations have documented the use of missing children in illegal activities such as prostitution and human trafficking on numerous occasions, it has not yet been determined how many children have disappeared, how many are alive, and where they are located until now.
On the occasion of World Children’s Day on Nov. 20, Zehra Hopyar, a researcher at Sakarya University‘s Diaspora Research Center, made an assessment of the refugee children who went missing in Europe.
Hopyar told Anadolu Agency the cases of missing migrant children in Europe began with the refugee crisis in 2015, and the number of unaccompanied children in Europe has increased significantly in recent years, and these disadvantaged children live a life devoid of basic rights such as education, food and health.
“According to the Lost in Europe in 2021 research, over 18,000 migrant children went missing in Europe between 2018 and 2020, implying that 17 refugee children go missing in Europe every day. According to the researchers, data on this subject is frequently sparse and inconsistent, and information collection activities are carried out without collaboration with official authorities. This leads us to believe that the true figure is significantly greater,” she said.
Noting that children in state care had also vanished in nations such as the UK, Germany and Italy, she noted that 116 migrant children vanished in the UK between July 2021 and August 2022.
“According to the Italian government, at least 2,409 children vanished in the first four months of 2022. According to the German Federal Criminal Office, around 1,600 children go missing in Germany each year, with more than half of these youngsters being asylum seekers,” she added.
She said that criminal organizations target missing refugee children in Europe for use in crimes such as human trafficking, organ mafia, forced begging and prostitution.
Hopyar added that these youngsters are forced to work in perilous industries that involve violence, sexual abuse, and other forms of mistreatment and that at least half of the missing children are never found.
“With the report of the European Union Police Agency Europol on the disappearance of children in Europe in 2016, the entire world became aware of the existence of missing children. The Russia-Ukraine war brought this topic to the forefront once more,” she added.
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