Thousands of Refugee Children Have Gone Missing In Europe as Criminal Networks Exploit the Migration Crisis
As Europe’s refugee crisis deepens, thousands of children have gone missing, with many feared lost to criminal gangs, prostitution, and worse.
At the beginning of 2016, Europol stated that at least 10,000 minor and unaccompanied refugee children are missing in Europe. According to the organization, the traces of thousands of children have been lost after they have been registered by state authorities. At least 5000 children are lost in Italy while about 1000 has vanished in Sweden. In Germany, the Bundeskriminalamt stated that at least 5000 refugee children are missing. Europol added that the lost children might have become the victims of criminal structures, especially in terms of human trafficking and child prostitution. Besides and as the mentioned data already shows, the number of 10,000 is a very decent and conservative estimate, even according to the authorities.
Save the Children estimates that about 26000 unaccompanied children reached Europe in the past year. According to Europol, about 27 percent of all refugees who arrived in Europe in 2015 have been minors, putting the number at 270,000. The United Nations found that this number has only increased since then and reported that in 2016, 35 percent of all refugees who reached Europe has been children.
Unfortunately, questions about the whereabouts of the missing children are few and far in between, relegated to the background noise of public fears of refugees. This has given criminal traffickers a free hand to exploit children to reap profits in the global organ trade or prostitution. No one in Europe is as weak as an unaccompanied refugee child who is lucky to even possess a verified identity.
Since the beginning of the so called refugee crisis, a new criminal infrastructure has been built around migration movements. The mafias seek cover behind a xenophobic political zeitgeist. As Hilde Vautmans, an EP member from the Alliance for Liberals and Democrats in Europe, stated: “When a dog is missing, people post emergency messages on their Facebook pages. But when we are faced with the biggest number of displaced children since World War II, we all get lost in the myriad of institutions. It’s a disgrace.”
According to Italian social workers, both male and female minor refugees from Nigeria have become victims of sexual abuse. UNICEF concluded that similar events are also taking place in the notorious refugee camp in France's Calais, where rape has become a kind of currency and children are the easiest targets.
Another illegal business that is booming is the trade in organs. Recent investigations in Italy demonstrated that persons who could not afford their flight were forced to sell their organs. An Egyptian crime network has even hunted those people who already sold their organs in order to kill them. In the end, most of these corpses vanished in the ocean. According to recent reports, Italian authorities already arrested 38 persons, mainly from Eritrea and Ethiopia. The key witness in the case stated that most of the customers who buy the organs are wealthy Europeans and Russians.
It is beyond debate that the crisis of missing refugee children is driven by growing criminal networks that reap profits from ruthless exploitation of the weakest members of society. But this is just one half of the story. Leading European Union members like France, the United Kingdom or Germany have been generating refugees for years. The governments of these countries are responsible for catastrophic war and crises abroad, in countries like Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and several African states where many refugees come from. They have thus played a role in providing Europe’s violent mafias with fodder in the form of innocent children.
In Fortress Europe, even the most ruthless smuggler is just a symptom of a system which has built itself on the corpses of the damned - and which demonstrates little will to change the sickening situation.