Oops: European Governments Have Lost Track Of Thousands Of Migrant Children
European governments are losing track of significant numbers of children who have entered the continent without their parents as refugees from war-torn areas in the Middle East and beyond.
In Belgium, authorities can’t account for 156 migrant children who entered the country unaccompanied since January 2015, and the number is growing. This year, 90 unaccompanied migrant children have been reported missing to Child Focus, Belgium’s center for missing and sexually exploited children.
In 2015, 88,245 unaccompanied children—91% of them boys—sought asylum in the European Union, and officials estimate that there are as many as 10,000 missing migrant children. This year, 90% of migrant children arriving in Italy were unaccompanied. Advocates say the families of children often pay smugglers in advance but often this depends on their nationality, with poorer migrants from Afghanistan or Eritrea forced to work for smugglers to pay for their passage.