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Tue, 21 Jan 2020 05:00 GMT

A Million Children Go Missing Yearly in Europe

Lifestyle & Health

Roberto Tumbarello

Fri, 07 Jun 2019 12:47 GMT

Every year, one million minors disappear in Europe. This was communicated at the end of May, on the International Day of Missing Children, by "Telefono Azzurro", the European organisation recognised by the UN for the defense of children's rights. Italy’s figures are even more surprising.Traces of a minor are lost every week and only 18% are found, that is 1 out of every 5 that goes missing. Of the rest there is no more news. 

The most vulnerable are the unaccompanied foreign minors, without parents or documents. Being unprotected they are the most frequent victims of trafficking and exploitation. Last year out of 150 reports of missing children only 20% concerned foreign minors. Therefore, this is not a phenomenon linked to migration, but which has increased with them. 

There is indeed a hunt for the minor throughout Europe. Sometimes they disappear because they are removed from the custody of the mother by the other parent, or because they are fleeing their home. In many cases they are intercepted and kidnapped in a moment of distraction or solitude. Very few are found. 

"Missing children, stolen from their parents or abducted” – says Dr. Ernesto Caffo, president of Telefono Azzurro – “are found in many cases in a different area from the one in which they live. They are often victims of exploitation or trafficking for prostitution or organ harvesting. To increase the chances of finding them, a common and synergistic service between the police forces of all European countries is fundamental, which favours cooperation ". 

Missing Children Europe is a permanent service of the European Federation for Missing and Sexually Exploited Children representing 31 NGOs from 27 European countries. For ten years, it has managed the toll-free telephone line 116, active 24 hours a day throughout Europe, in collaboration with the Ministry of the Interior and the Order's Forces. 

Thanks to agreements and operating procedures with the competent authorities, after each report Missing Children Europe follows the investigations together with the police to ensure compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989 and to facilitate actions to support the activities of intervention and finding of missing children. 

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