239 unaccompanied refugee children disappeared from UK Sunday 17 April 2016
There are fears some of the children are being taken into ‘a life of slavery and exploitation’
At least 239 unaccompanied refugee children permanently disappeared from care facilities in the UK in 2015.
Freedom of information requests to 140 local authorities across England and Wales have revealed the significant increase – with 51 children disappearing from care in October 2015 alone.
Other findings include that the Home Office is “releasing children into unchecked accommodation” despite concerns they would be trafficked; the missing children are being treated as “low” or “medium” risk; and councils “struggling” to provide enough safe accommodation for children. It found the number of Vietnamese children going missing from care tripled in the last year.
Libby Freeman, founder of refugee charity Calais Action, demanded the government launch a “full and proper” investigation.
Ms Freeman told The Independent: “Unlike in Calais, where they are refusing to take responsibility, they can’t sidestep it here. Austerity and the cuts are partly to blame for this. The social care system has been damaged and more and more people are falling through the net.”
According to the EU police agency Europol, more than 10,000 unaccompanied child refugees have disappeared in Europe in the last two years.
Anne Longfield, who is tasked with protecting the rights of children in England, wrote to French authorities earlier this month to ask them to accelerate the asylum claims of unaccompanied children living in the Calais “Jungle” refugee camp. The Independent
Almost 6,000 refugee children and minors were reported missing in Germany last year, according to its interior ministry, amid growing concerns that traffickers and criminals are preying on thousands of vulnerable young people travelling amid the flow of refugees into Europe.
The exact scale of the crisis is unclear, because rudimentary and overwhelmed registration systems mean Europe does not have a clear picture of the number of children arriving on its shores, or close tracking of their onward route.
Some of those who vanish may never have registered, paranoid that officials will lock them up. Others may have been reunited with families and not told local officials. But there is little question that others have fallen into the hands of traffickers, and thousands more are at risk from criminals.
European Union estimates that at least 10,000 child refugees had disappeared after arriving in the continent were “very likely to be underestimated”, a senior official at Unicef warned on the day the German numbers were released.
“The thing is, they are invisible, that’s the very reason why [they are vulnerable] – if children aren’t counted, they don’t count,” said Sarah Crowe, Unicef’s global spokesperson on the European and refugee and migrant crisis. “Different states need to know who is in their country and take care of them.”
Germany’s interior ministry also admitted its estimate could be too low. Authorities are taking the situation “very seriously”, but cases are hard to follow due to the lack of central data collection, spokesman Johannes Dimroth said.
Most of the children who have been identified as missing came from Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Morocco and Algeria, the ministry said, and about 550 of them were under 14.
Overall, 95,000 children who were not accompanied by an adult or had been separated from their families had sought asylum in the EU last year, the majority of them in Germany and Sweden, Crowe said. Read in full at The Guardian
- More Than 5,000 Migrant Children ‘Disappear’ In Italy telegraph 25.06.2015
- Europe Refugee Crisis: 1,000 Children Reported Missing ibtimes 15.10.15
- 10,000 refugee children are missing, says Europol theguardian 30.01.16
- More than 10,000 refugee children missing in Europe Aljazeera 31.01.16
- 129 unaccompanied children missing since Calais Jungle demolition 02.04.16
- Refugee children go missing from Calais’ ‘Jungle’ middleeasteye 03.04.16
- Families on a lonely search for Europe’s missing refugee thehindu 12.06.16
- Thousands of Refugee Children Are Disappearing on Our Doorstep – Govt Cannot Afford to Drag Its Heels Huffpost 30.07.16
- Child refugees are being held in ‘dirty’ police cells, charity warns
- 75% of Calais ‘Jungle’ refugees have ‘experienced police violence’
- Sanctuary or ghetto? How Mannheim created a ‘city within a city’ for refugees
- UK ‘failing migrant children who came here alone & live in squalor’ say Lords 27.07.16
- UK & other EU states ‘contributing’ to risks to refugee children. Lords report 27.07.16
- Report: EU failing migrant children 26.07.16