5,835 children and teenager refugees had disappeared in Germany over the past year, with 555 of them being under the age of 14.
On Monday, the German Interior Ministry was forced to give the figure to the German news organization Funke Mediengruppe, as the media agency had sent an inquiry to the German parliament.
According to the German public broadcaster, Deutsche Welle (DW), the German Interior Ministry didn’t give any explanation about the disappearances. In February, the German Ministry of Family Affairs had also reported that there was no reason to believe thousands of minors and children had gone missing in Germany.
The extremely worrying fact is not something new and reveals a policy vacuum at the EU and the national level of governance. On 1st February, Europol’s chief of staff, Brian Donald told the press that more than 10,000 refugee children may have disappeared after arriving in Europe over the past two years.
It is also already known that the gangs helping the people in need to enter the EU are the same gangs involved in human-trafficking. “The ones who have been active in human smuggling are now appearing in our files in relation to migrant smuggling,” Europol’s official said and warned authorities that these gangs are forcing refugee children and young people into sexual exploitation and slavery.
The UN Refugee Agency UNHCR, repeatedly urged the EU policy makers to make more reception centers to help the unaccompanied refugee minors who were travelling by themselves in Europe and to change the family reunification laws in order to address the problem with the missing children.
Unfortunately, for some of the refugee children is maybe too late as British based humanitarian organization, Save the Children, reported that it has already recorded multiple cases of sexual abuse, violence, and extortion against refugee minors.
Missing Children Europe, another NGO which tries to fill the political gap, reported that during February 2016, in Hungary children disappeared at an estimated rate of 90-95 percent, after spending one to three days in reception institutions. In Slovenia, about 80 percent of children went missing. In Sweden, about 7-10 children are reported missing each week and in Austria, 100 children went missing from one reception center.
After the report by the Funke Mediengruppe, German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs spokeswoman Verena Herb, said the government is very sensitive about the problem, and has implemented policies to address it.
She said new reception centers will be opened especially for unaccompanied children and teenagers, and federal states will improve the registration system.
“We cannot rule out that these children and teenagers might fall into the hands of criminals,” Herb noted.
However, German authorities said that some of the missing refugee children, could have been taken by their relatives but they didn’t report it to the authorities.