Ivan, a 15-year-old Ukrainian boy, was reported missing by his mother on March 14th, suspecting he had left the country on his own. The police and NGO Magnolia were notified, and Missing Children Europe was given permission to share the case internationally. Missing Children Europe notified the neighbouring 116000 hotlines to publish the appeal and asked them to check national border registrations.

The Romanian hotline reported that Ivan had entered Romania from Moldova on the 18th of March and left on the 19th . Moldovan NGOs subsequently discovered that he had entered Moldova by car with two Ukrainian girls aged 16 and two German adults, with a power of attorney allowing him to cross the border without his parents at age 15. This, Ivan’s mother knew to be false as she had never signed one.

The trail seemed to go cold after Ivan exited Romania, with no border registration found upon entering the Schengen Zone. Since there are no borders between the countries in the Schengen Zone, for Ukrainians it is possible to travel freely until they apply for the temporary protection.

The Ukrainian police managed to get in touch with the family of the two girls. The girls had informed their parents they were being taken to foster families in Germany by volunteers of a well-known international NGO. However, that NGO do not operate foster programmes. In light of all these worrying signs: the number of border crossings in a short period of time, the forged power of attorney and the story of the volunteers not adding up, Missing Children Europe contacted the German anti-trafficking network, KOK who put us in touch with the German police. They questioned the driver of the vehicle and could confirm that the volunteers were genuine but from a local, less well-known NGO.  

Ivan was reassigned to a children’s home and had been appointed a German guardian. He eventually agreed to speaking to his parents on the phone. He told his mom  he had forged the power of attorney when his friends, the two girls, had asked him to flee the war with them, fearing for their lives. 

*The young person’s names have been changed for protection purposes

About Missing Children Europe

Missing Children Europe represents 32 Non-Governmental Organisations active in 27 countries across Europe for the prevention, protection and support of missing and sexually exploited children and their families. We provide the link between research, policies, and organisations on the ground to protect children from any form of violence, abuse, or neglect that is caused by or results from them going missing. Missing Children Europe coordinates the network of 116000 hotlines for missing children, and the network of cross-border family mediators and facilitates coordination of cases that involve cross-border issues, ensuring that vulnerable children receive the help they need no matter where they are in Europe. 


About NGO Magnolia

NGO Magnolia was founded more than 20 years ago by a group of journalists to protect the rights of vulnerable children and families and to support the search for missing children through publicity appeals. Cooperating with almost 30 TV channels and advertising agencies, they share posters of missing children and video appeals from their families. Since its start, NGO Magnolia contributed to the search and location of more than 2300 children.