2 February 2016

10,000 refugee and migrant children missing, says EU police agency

Andreas Papp, International Director of Emergency Response at SOS Children’s Villages, responds to European Union police agency's announcement that an estimated 10,000 refugee and migrant children are unaccounted for and at risk of exploitation:
“All European Union states have a fundamental duty to safeguard children and protect them from forced labor, violence and sexual abuse. So it is particularly disturbing to learn that potentially thousands of children desperate to escape conflict and neglect at home, and who face the added trauma of being separated from their parents or guardians, find themselves forgotten or subject to criminal exploitation in Europe.
“Young refugees and migrants need – and have a right to – special protection, as affirmed in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (article 22.1) and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (article 24). Protecting child refugees and migrants, and especially unaccompanied or separated children, must be the priority. We call on all European countries to immediately ensure the proper registration of children and follow-up action to make sure they are provided a safe home, have access to care and education, and are protected against abuse or exploitation. We must not look away if a child is being exploited or neglected. We as citizens must keep our eyes open to ensure that no child falls through the cracks or into the hands of those who would harm them.
“We also urge the authorities to live up to their obligation to fulfil every child’s rights, and to prosecute those responsible for criminal trafficking or exploitation of children.”