Report: Thousands of refugee children and minors are missing in Europe, and the statistics are increasing annually

Frightening numbers, which are steadily increasing year after year, for the number of missing refugee children in Europe, were revealed by research conducted by the European Journalists’ Network “Lost in Europe”, which includes a number of European newspapers, in addition to the Italian news agency “ANSA” and “Rbb24 Recherche”.

The research report, which was translated by the Syrian newspaper “Enab Baladi,” includes terrifying facts about the extent of the phenomenon of missing unaccompanied refugee children. Among those facts that raise panic is the fact that these numbers are not final, and there are indications that there are double numbers of missing children. And whose cases are difficult to track for various reasons.

The number of missing persons is increasing annually in a number of European countries

According to the research report, the number of missing minor refugees in Europe has reached more than 51 thousand, who arrived there between 2021 and 2023, amid a noticeable increase in numbers, as the statistic was 18,300 thousand children three years ago. The number of missing minor refugee children has increased from 724 children during the year. 2021 to 2005 children to date in Germany alone, for example.

While Italy comes in first place in the number of missing persons during the past three years, as it recorded 22,899 cases of disappearance of refugee minors during the past three years, and in 2023 alone the number of missing persons reached 10,100 missing persons, and Austria came in second place with the number of 20,077 refugee minors. Missing, and the number of missing children during the year 2023 reached about five thousand children, followed by Belgium with 2,241 missing people during the past three years, so Germany comes in fourth place with 2,005 minor refugees whose whereabouts the authorities do not know.

While Greece and Spain did not record any statistics on missing children or unaccompanied youth, according to the published research report, we believe that the matter regarding “Greece” as a transit country for refugees raises many doubts, according to research by the Center for Health and Human Rights of Harvard University. It was prepared in 2016 – https://nedaa. The Foundation had previously published a summary of it, through which it becomes clear the extent of the phenomenon of sexual exploitation of refugee children in refugee camps in this country, and the availability of all factors for the loss of children, which makes the real numbers unknown until now.

?What are the reasons for the disappearance of refugee children in Europe

“The numbers are alarming, and the increasing number of reports of missing unaccompanied minors serves as a sharp reminder of the giant iceberg looming beneath the surface,” says Aggie Even, Secretary General of the Organization for Missing Children in Europe. Losing children? This question is often answered with speculation and conjectures, neither supported nor refuted by any evidence.

In a statement by the European Union Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, in an exclusive interview with the “Rbb24 Recherche” website, and her statement was reported by the German television website “” -unbegleitete-kinder-jugendli%D8%B4che-bka-100.html?fbclid=IwZXh0bgNhZW0CMTAAAR14hLpn-3mYfXysFEVOi800aWpJtOByh2F9CcTMGU7tJCWoE0hJCDJz9uw_aem_AeQG-IOAFxKLeuKZX iNWo98bkJsr21PYkiZktFOFAAk3-fXU2SZkCdge0jnLz9AOm5tdujovbmclANKsHz9foX8Vchau,” there are no European-wide requirements on the fate of unaccompanied minor refugees, to comment on the very high number of refugees. Missing people, adding that she does not know if the numbers are correct, but there is a broken immigration system in Europe! According to her statements, the risk is that unaccompanied minor refugees will become victims of human traffickers, if they are already in the European Union.

According to the aforementioned German site, the experts who spoke to the site assume that many children leave their centers because they are dissatisfied with the length of the procedures, or hope to obtain faster help in other countries, or want to visit their relatives and friends, while the research prepared at the European level, It is often not possible to accurately determine the reasons for the disappearance of young men, and the site stresses that it must be reported when minor refugees disappear from places where the authorities are holding them, as many of them appear days later in other countries, or in different municipalities within other cities in Germany itself.

According to Ilf Johansson, “It is now planned to introduce a unified registration system for unaccompanied minor refugees. This does not solve the problem of missing children currently, but European Union countries must now work to create better conditions and facilitate finding contacts and guardians for children.” ).

A burden on Germany and a shortage of staff

Statistics show that in the city of Bavaria, Germany, 511 cases of disappearance of 511 minor refugees were recorded, while the number of missing minor refugees in Baden-Württemberg reached 355, while in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia their number reached 327 missing minors.

According to Helen Sondermeier, an employee of the Federal Association for Unaccompanied Minors Refugees, Germany is currently very overcrowded, and it is noted that at the beginning of the arrival of young people most of them are reported missing, and at the current stage the standards of care have been lowered, in order to ensure care for the children despite the lack of staff, The overburden on support structures is coupled with incomplete data on the whereabouts of children and young people.

An employee from the German Fund also stressed the necessity of reporting the disappearance of children, warning that they are exposed to certain risks, including the possibility of them falling into the hands of criminal organizations or being exposed to exploitation or sexual assault.

Risks increase with the increase in unaccompanied children seeking asylum

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), on September 29, 2023, indicated that unaccompanied children are at risk of exploitation and abuse at every step of the way. More than 11,600 children crossed the Mediterranean to Italy without their parents or legal guardians, between January and mid-September of this year.

The organization also reported that at least 990 people, including children, died or disappeared while trying to cross the central Mediterranean between June and August of this year, which is three times the number recorded in the same period of the year. Last summer when at least 334 people lost their lives.

Nedaa Foundation had previously published an international report issued by UNICEF in partnership with the International Organization for Migration, under the title (A horrific journey… Children and youth crossing the Mediterranean Sea are at risk of being trafficked and exploited), in which the high levels of danger faced by migrant children and youth are revealed. A large number of them were subjected to sexual exploitation, victims of human trafficking, or forced arranged marriages. -Report link-https://nedaa

On November 21, 2023, the European Union Statistical Center (Eurostat) indicated that the Union had received more than asylum requests. In September 2023, an increase of 19% compared to the same month in 2022, Syrian citizens recorded the highest percentage among asylum seekers during the past two years, and in September alone, 4,465 unaccompanied minors submitted asylum applications, and the number of Syrians, including 1,540 minors, is the most countries that Germany received asylum applications from unaccompanied minors during September 2023, with 1,250 applications, Austria, with 795 applications, and then Bulgaria, with 735 applications.

Previous statistics: 17 refugee children go missing every day in Europe

It is worth noting that a report by the “Lost in Europe” research network, published in 2012, confirmed that more than 18,000 unaccompanied migrant children went missing in Europe between January 2018 and December 2020, including Algerian and Moroccan children, and according to the report. Which was published by “The Guardian” newspaper, 18,292 unaccompanied migrant children went missing in Europe between January 2018 and December 2020, which is equivalent to the disappearance of 17 children every day, and 18,292 cases of disappearance of unaccompanied refugee children and adolescents were reported between 2018 and 2020 AD. According to an analysis of data from a research network in Europe, these missing persons were previously under the care of the countries in which they live. Most of the missing minors are from Morocco, Algeria and Eritrea, according to the “Lost in Europe” research network, which includes the British newspaper “The Guardian”, the Dutch broadcasting company VPRO, the Belgian broadcasting company “De Standard”, and the Berlin Broadcasting Company. -Brandenburg (RBB)


European Journalists Network “Lost in Europe”-

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF):

.European Union Statistical Center (Eurostat)-

.Daba Press:

.Enab Baladi newspaper-

Prepared by: Khawla Al-Hadid*