Close to 1,800 unaccompanied child migrants and refugees are missing in Germany, according to German media reports. The government warns that they could fall victim to human traffickers.
The number refers to 1,074 youths and 711 children missing by the end of March 2020, totalling 1.785 minors. The majority of the missing underage migrants originate from Afghanistan, Syria, Morocco, Guinea and Somalia, according to reports circulated by newspapers belonging to the Funke Mediengruppe publishing house.
The exact number of missing cases was provided by the German government after the Left Party (Linke) had requested information on the matter in the Bundestag, Germany's lower house of parliament.
Some progress - at least statistically speaking
Compared to numbers of missing underage migrants reported in previous years, there appears to have been great progress. Two years ago, the number of missing migrant children stood at almost 4,200 and a year ago at just shy of 3,200.
However, the government told the Funke Mediengruppe newspapers that some of the missing migrant youths from earlier years had reached the age of 18 and were therefore no longer part of the statistics. It also added that the overall flow of migrants into Germany had fallen in recent years.
In the years between 2016 and 2019, authorities solved more than 21,000 cases of missing migrant children or youths, according to the Funke group.
The highest number of missing underage migrants was recorded in Bavaria, with more than a third (615) of the cases being attributed to Germany’s largest federal state. All other states had fewer than 200 cases each, with some only having slightly more than a dozen children and youth unaccounted for.
In cases that have since been solved, young people shared various reasons for running away from their families - with the biggest single motivation being a reunion with other family members in a different part of Germany or Europe. Others said they had run away from their facilities because they weren't happy with the conditions there.
The German government stressed that missing children and youths could fall prey to people smugglers and human traffickers.