Each year, well over 250 000 children slip through the net of child protection systems in Europe as they go missing following a wide range of situations of conflict, violence and abuse. Missing Children Europe and its 30 grassroots members actively prevent, protect and support missing children and their families in 26 countries in Europe.
Runaways, parental abductions and missing unaccompanied migrant children make up to 85% of missing children cases in the EU, but awareness and child protection responses for these vulnerable categories of missing children and their families still require a lot of support. Data from the dedicated European hotline for missing children active in 30 countries in Europe also reveals that over 18% of all cases involve a cross-border element. The issue of missing children is not confined to national borders and therefore requires European support structures and European policies to effectively tackle the real issues surrounding why children go missing.
This is the role played by Missing Children Europe. Our mission is to protect children from any harmful situation that may lead to, or result from, them going missing. We do this by supporting the development of effective cross-border solutions, raising awareness of these issues, developing effective networks and cooperation channels and promoting the implementation of supportive legislation for the best interests of the child.
Missing Children Europe has developed rapidly since it obtained its financial and administrative independence from its Belgian member and co-founder Child Focus in 2008. Seven years later Missing Children Europe has evolved to focus on the overall problem of missing children by working on understanding the many reasons why children go missing and what happens to them when they do. Based on the strategy crafted for 2014-2017, the organisation has focused its efforts on supporting the development of embedded and complementary child protection systems in Europe through developing cross-border responses and projects, supporting research and evidence, raising awareness and prevention and promoting relevant policies and laws.
We have a long way to go but we believe that together we can create a safer Europe for children.