Asylum-seeking children who go missing are falling prey to trafficking and sex slavery and policymakers have a duty to protect them, the director general of the President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society has said. 

Ruth Farrugia said that authorities seemed to labour under the illusion that children who fall off the radar have somehow landed in Eden. 

“Sometimes the attitude has been ‘oh, we’ve got one less child to worry about’; it’s as if we don’t want to dwell on how they may have landed in criminal hands, hoping they had reached their destination safely,” Dr Farrugia said.

Ruth Farrugia.Ruth Farrugia.

“If we agree that children are vulnerable, then there is no argument that they deserve protection. We can no longer remain idle in the face of horror stories about terrible things that children should never have to see or go through,” she said.

Dr Farrugia and Missing Children Europe secretary general Delphine Moralis will be jointly addressing two high-level meetings of the EU Home Affairs and Security, and Justice councils later this week.

The two EU Council meetings are being held in parallel with an international conference taking place in Malta. ‘Lost in Migration’, organised by Missing Children Europe and the President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society, is being held this Thursday and Friday at San Anton, Palace, Attard.

“What pains me the most is that we’re reneging on the basics — if a child asks for protection it’s an adult’s responsibility to provide it,” Dr Farrugia added.

One in every four people currently seeking protection from harm and persecution in the EU is a child, with more than half of those under the age of 14.  

According to Europol, at least 10,000 unaccompanied migrant children disappeared in Europe in 2015. Only a handful have been found. 

“We will be urging policymakers to sit up and listen; to work in a more coordinated way. This is an urgent matter and we have no time to waste — the children’s agenda is not necessarily the politicians’ agenda,” Dr Farrugia said.

Among the speakers addressing the two-day conference are Maud de Boer Buquicchio, President of Missing Children Europe; Atifete Jahjaga, former President of Kosovo; Susan Bissell, Director of the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children; Rob Wainwright, Director Europol; and Leila Zerrougui, UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict.



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