On January 31, the BBC reported that more than 10,000 migrant children were ‘missing’ in Europe according to Europol. The European Union’s law enforcement agency also warned that unaccompanied minors could be forced into sexual exploitation and slavery by criminal gangs.
Caution needs to be exercised.
Tens of thousands of young adults are also unaccounted for. Very probably, most of those adults and children aren’t being trafficked, but are with friends and family, working as best as they can.
However, the chaos that the unpreparedness and ineptitude of European leaders created last year has pushed, for lack of trust, many young and adult migrants to shy away from authorities, which have therefore lost track of them. In effect, after having registered with Italian or Greek authorities, they have “disappeared” in order not to be on the radar screen while they are travelling further North in Europe to join with family or friends: otherwise they could be picked up by the authorities there, arrested, detained and sent back to Italy and Greece, which is not at all what they want.
In order to limit such underground travelling which helps human trafficking rings preying on them, regaining the trust of the migrants through offering them facilitated mobility solutions throughout Europe should be a priority.