At last 10,000 migrant children in Europe disappeared in 2015. Many of them are still missing.
At last 10,000 migrant children in Europe disappeared in 2015. Many of them are still missing.

More than three years after nearly a million refugees and migrants entered Germany, hundreds of children who fled continue to disappear after arriving in the country. Recent figures from the German federal police agency have prompted renewed calls for improved protection of refugee children.

In 2015, when over a million refugees and migrants fled to Europe, Europol said at least 10,000 migrant children went missing. Today, national reports show that migrant children have continued to disappear, many leaving reception centers because of poor conditions or because they're targeted by human traffickers.

At the start of 2019, Germany's federal criminal police agency, BKA, reports that at least 884 migrant children under the age of 13 are currently registered as missing in the country. The number is only slightly down from 902 registered in October of 2018.

The number of missing refugees and migrants between the ages of 14 and 17 is at least 2,308, compared with 2,566 registered four months ago. A large majority of these are male, according to the BKA.

The BKA says the figures are only estimates because it is sometimes impossible to establish the identity of missing children, particularly those who are unaccompanied.

Protection mechanisms

The Deutsches Kinderhilfswerk, an NGO which supports children in Germany, has called for better national and transnational protection systems. Stronger cross-border cooperation was also recommended during a major conference on the protection of migrant children's rights last April. 

The Lost in Migration conference also recommended better accommodation and reception for children, the removal of children from detention, and an individual care plan for each child arriving in Europe.

•••• ➤ The European hotline for missing children can be reached by calling 116 000.


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