Missing children in migration

Children in migration are understood as - children who migrated from their country of origin fleeing conflict or persecution, in search of survival, security, improved standards of living, education, economic opportunities, protection from exploitation and abuse, family reunification or a combination of these or other factors. They are considered missing when they are registered with state authorities and go missing from the reception/accommodation centres provided for them. Tens of thousands of young newcomers escaping violence or poverty continue to go missing in Europe. Too often, the disappearance of children in migration is overlooked because seen as a voluntary act of the child, with little or no assessment of the reasons why the child went missing, the possibility that the child was abducted and the risks to which the individual child is exposed. Concern over the fate of these children relates to the increasing crossover between the smugglers who bring these children to Europe in risky and dangerous circumstances, and the traffickers who then force these children into sexual and labour exploitation as well as criminal and begging rings.

We are members of the Vulnerability Experts Network of the European Union Agency for Asylum and a focal point of the Initiative for Children in Migration, an informal collaboration of over 100 NGOs and IGOs involved in advocacy on EU law and policy impacting children in migration.

Facts & Figures

Over 18,000

migrant and refugee children went missing in Europe between 2018-2020, an equivalent to nearly 17 children a day.


of the missing children in migration reported to hotlines in 2020 were found within the year.

Children in migration

are underreported to our hotlines or the police, which is worrisome.



The useful app tailored to the needs of children in migration, with a focus on facilitating access to dedicated services in the area in which they find themselves and inform young newcomers on their rights in the country where they are.

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The project works towards a more efficient cooperation across borders for the protection of children in migration from trafficking and exploitation. 54 organisations and agencies in 6 countries have participated in this initiative and practical guidance with best practices is now available in 5 languages.

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Safeguarding Unaccompanied Migrant Minors from going Missing by Identifying Best Practices and Training Actors on Interagency Cooperation is a research project that investigated why children in migration go missing, the strategies to prevent children going missing and how to better react to disappearances.

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Advocacy resources

Joint Statement – More than idle words: time for EU Member States to commit to the rights of all children in and outside the EU (15.10.2021) – Press release

Joint letter – Fundamental Rights concerns about the EURODAC reform (08.09.2021) – Document

Joint statement on the impact of the Pact on
Migration and Asylum on children in migration (December 2020)- Document


The Initiative for Children in Migration

An informal collaboration between migration, asylum and child protection actors from European and national levels working on coordinated advocacy work on EU law and policy concerning children in migration.

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Lost in Migration

Lost in Migration is an annual conference where young newcomers, professionals and European policy makers meet to discuss migration-related issues that affect children and young people and that leads children and young people to go missing.

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