#LostinMigration: The unending struggle for children in migration.
Brussels, 25 January 2017: In 2016, one in four people currently seeking asylum in the EU were children. More than half of them are under the age of 14. Reports from Europol of at least 10 000 unaccompanied children going missing from centres in the EU made waves last year. However, one year on the situation has not improved for children fleeing situations of violence, abuse and poverty. Forced to flee without family or separated on their journey, many of these children end up at the mercy of smugglers and traffickers who exploit them for profit.
Gulwali was 13 when, afraid of the Taliban’s threats to recruit her sons, his mother sent him and his brother from Afghanistan to find a safer life. He was split up from his brother almost immediately by smugglers and endured a tortuous journey – he was incarcerated three times, jumped from a speeding train in Bulgaria, nearly breaking both legs, slept rough frequently, and was burned by chemicals in a lorry.
“When I fled to the UK, no one believed I was 13. In those early dark days of battling bureaucracy I was so isolated and depressed that I made two separate suicide attempts. Because if finding yourself all alone in an alien culture after a journey of fear and trauma is incredibly hard for anyone, it is almost unbearable for young, unaccompanied asylum seekers who have nowhere to turn”, says Gulwali who will be speaking at the Lost in Migration conference in Malta on the 26-27 January 2017.
The conference is organised in cooperation with Her Excellency, Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, President of Malta and her Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society. The event will bring together EU Policy makers, child protection and migration experts and previously unaccompanied children to work on recommendations for children in migration. These recommendations aim to inform national ministers from the EU present at the informal Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) council meeting happening on the same dates in Malta. More information on the event can be found here and the programme can be downloaded here.
#MentiontheUnmentioned, a social media campaign sharing stories of migrant children asking concerned citizens to “mention” their national ministers to do more to was launched last week. More information can be found here.
Press are invited to cover the event by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
For further information or to request an interview, please contact:
Secretary General, Missing Children Europe
+ 32 477 44 44 93