More than 18,000 unaccompanied minors have disappeared from irregular migrants heading to Europe in the past three years, and many of them may have fallen into the hands of criminal organizations.
As of 2018, 18,292 children who came to Europe without relatives are unaccounted for, according to a study by Belgian newspapers De Standaard and Knack with the investigative journalism organization Lost in Europe.
It is believed that these children may have been used by organized crime groups or forced to work. Most of the children came from Morocco, Algeria, Eritrea, Guinea, and Afghanistan. In some countries, such as Romania and France, such missing person cases are not recorded, so the number may be much higher. It was stated that migration decreased due to the covid-19 outbreak in the last year, so the number of missing children decreased compared to previous years.
According to the research, the methods used by European countries in the records are not compatible with each other. Therefore, the data was not very healthy. In some cases, it turned out that children were registered as adults and some adults as children. Some children were reported to have changed countries within Europe and disappeared in the country they went to, thereby being recorded as missing several times.
Ylva Johansson, the European Union (EU) commissioner for internal affairs, was quoted as saying they were “very concerned” about the disappearance of the children, but the EU Commission placed the responsibility on member states.
The European police agency Europol reported at least 10,000 migrant children missing in 2016.