Up to 50% of unaccompanied migrant children go missing within 48 hours of being placed in certain reception centres in Europe
Missing Children Europe, will showcase a unique art exhibition “Losing myself” on the real stories and experiences of unaccompanied migrant children who went “missing” on the 3rd of December at the InBetween gallery in Brussels. The exhibition will focus on a blend of photography and music produced together with photographer Natalie Hill and 3 unaccompanied migrant children from the Minor -Ndako reception centre in Brussels.
The exhibition will be followed by a conference on developing a strategic, coordinated response to prevent and protect this vulnerable category of missing children, the next day. Here are some key facts and background on the issue of missing unaccompanied migrant children:
> 12.730 asylum applications were submitted by unaccompanied children in the EU in 2013. 1.095 of these applications were submitted by children below the age of 14.
> Many of these children have lost their homes, are escaping violence, poverty or disaster.
> Often beginning their journeys with parents or siblings, children are at times separated intentionally from their family members by child traffickers or smugglers. Other children leave their home on their own initiative, fleeing a situation of abuse or exploitation.
> Up to half of the number of unaccompanied migrant children who are placed in certain reception centres in Europe vanish yearly, many in the first 48 hours of being placed in these centres.
> Some go missing from the reception centres they have been placed in with a specific migration plan in mind, or run away from the fear of being sent back to the situation they tried to escape from.
> Others fall victim to kidnapping, trafficking, sexual exploitation and economic exploitation, including forced donation of organs, prostitution, forced drug smuggling and begging.
> Unaccompanied children not applying for asylum, accounted for a total of 12.465 children according to figures from some EU member states.
> Due to the lack of information available on the families, situations and realities of unaccompanied migrant children, many of these children are never found once they disappear.
> Only 4 EU member states have legal or procedural regulations on missing migrant children.
> Missing unaccompanied migrant children receive lower priority than other missing children in at least 2 member states where there is a fixed ‘no action’ period before the start of the investigation.
> Similarly because of a lack of coherent reporting mechanisms across Europe, trying to understand the real numbers of unaccompanied migrant children who go missing and what happens when they do, is still very challenging.
Missing Children Europe’s exhibition will aim at bringing to light the problem of missing unaccompanied migrant children through art. The aim of the corresponding conference will be to discuss practical measures and building blocks to effectively prevent the ‘going missing’ of these children. It will bring together key stakeholders from across Europe, representing law enforcement and migration authorities, child protection services, guardianship services, hotlines for missing children, reception centres and academia. Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, President of Missing Children Europe and UN Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography will open both the exhibition and the conference. Additionally, Her Majesty Queen Paola will attend the closing of the conference and the cocktail reception in here capacity as member of Missing Children Europe’s Patrons’ Council.
Missing unaccompanied migrant children make up 2% of missing children cases reported by 116 000 missing children hotlines in Europe and represent one of the 3 thematic priority groups dealt with by Missing Children Europe along with runaways and parental abductions.
For more information on the issue of missing unaccompanied migrant children or other categories of missing children, contact Delphine Moralis, General Secretary of Missing Children Europe on Delphine.firstname.lastname@example.org.