Authorities dealing with Europe’s migrant crisis have lost track of about 10,000 unaccompanied children amid fears that organized crime gangs are beginning to exploit the vulnerable youngsters, a senior official at the European Union’s police agency said Monday.
Europol Chief of Staff Brian Donald said that the figure “would be a conservative estimate across all the countries that are dealing with this migrant crisis” over the past 12-18 months.
The revelation that so many youngsters are unaccounted for is the latest worrying development in the migrant crisis and underscores the risks faced by people fleeing conflict, poverty and persecution in the Middle East, Africa and Asia even once they have reached the apparent safety of Europe.
Donald said the estimate of 10,000 missing was based on reports by law enforcement authorities, governments and non-governmental organizations. “They’re lost in the system,” he said of the minors. “I think our concern is that we know that there are people out there who will exploit minors. We know there are people who will take them and use them for their own purposes.”
Maybe “Europe” — this means you, Angela Merkel! — should have thought of this before jumping off the cultural cliff. Right, Sweden?
Sweden, a popular destination for migrants, already is aware of the problem. The Stockholm county government released a report last week citing Swedish Migration Agency statistics that said 1,900 of the 55,000 unaccompanied minors who have applied for asylum in Sweden in the past six years disappeared. The whereabouts of 1,250 of those is still unclear. About 88 percent of those who went missing are boys.
“There is very little information about what happens after they disappear. These children are particularly vulnerable to being exploited in various ways,” the report said.
Amir Hashemi-Nik of the Stockholm County Administration said some of those who disappear are believed to be in the grip of human-trafficking rings and end up in prostitution, begging or other criminal activities. some disappear simply because they don’t like the place where they have been assigned and decide to leave, others go when they approach their 18th birthday because they are worried it will be harder to get asylum.
North African boys are particularly likely to go underground because, unlike Syrians or Afghans, they are unlikely to get asylum. “Many of them have lived on the streets in many other countries before coming to Sweden,” the report said. “Many of these children become involved in crime.”
And none of this had to happen. But when “human rights” trumps self-defense and national survival, this is exactly what happens.