A police patrol in Trieste: Photo: ARCHIVE/ ANSA / Francesco De Filippo
A police patrol in Trieste: Photo: ARCHIVE/ ANSA / Francesco De Filippo

Italian police have said that in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region, on the border with Slovenia, some 75% of those that have gone missing are under age 18 compared with a national average of 50%. The region is a transit area for the "Balkan route" for migrants from the Middle East towards countries in northern Europe.

As part of International Missing Children's Day on May 25, Italian police reported that the disappearance of minors in the region of Friuli Venezia Giulia along the border with Slovenia is heavily affected by being a land of transit of the "Balkan route" used by many migrants coming from the Middle East and headed towards countries in Northern Europe.

Compared with a national average of those under age 18 accounting for 50% of those that go missing, the figure rises to 75% in this region in northeastern Italy.

Police figures

The police headquarters of Trieste reported in a statement that those under age 18 almost always leave the facilities to which they have been entrusted of their own accord after being tracked down by police forces.

As an example, in the second half of 2020, reports of those under age 18 that had gone missing numbered 543 including 533 who reportedly left of their own accord.

Only a very small part of those that choose to leave are ever tracked down by the police and mostly in Germany through coordination mechanisms with foreign police forces or near Italy's borders with France and Switzerland.

During the current six-month period, there have been 83 reports of missing persons (almost all of whom males), including 68 who reportedly left voluntarily and the other 15 were either tracked down or voluntarily came back to the facilities they were hosted in or their homes.

Regional government walks talks with interior minister

On Monday, Friuli Venezia Giulia regional councillor Pierpaolo Roberti once again asked for an "urgent meeting with the interior minister on the situation of illegal entrances from the eastern border (of the region). Measures to curb the growing phenomenon -- which with the coming of the summer may reach worrisome proportions -- are no longer able to be postponed. ... (t)he issue (must be) dealt with in a concrete manner, without ideological counterpositions."

This latest request came after an incident on Monday in which 34 undocumented migrants were tracked down in transit on a lane that goes from Rio Ospo to Muggia (Trieste) on state highway 15 near the border with Slovenia.

Roberti reiterated the need to deal with the issue of migrant boat landings and the Balkan route, which ever more migrants are using.

"In Friuli Venezia Giulia, from January 1 to May 10," the councillor said, "we have seen an increase of around 20% compared with the same period in 2020," he said.


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