Today, we mark International Missing Children’s Day. You’d be right to think that this is not exactly the most famous of international days. You might even be wondering why we’re sending this email.
But even though our calendars are increasingly full of days we’re told to mark, celebrate or observe, we want to take a moment to focus on this one.
Just last month, a new report uncovered a shocking fact. In just 2 years, over 18,000 migrant children have gone missing in Europe.
That’s 17 children every single day.
These are children who have fled war and persecution and sought asylum in Greece, Italy and Spain. These children are the same children who come to our centres on Chios and Samos. They are the same young people our volunteers, teachers and youth workers support on the Aegean Islands.
We work tirelessly at the borders of Europe to create safe spaces of welcome. We’re desperately creating strong child protection mechanisms so that young people on the move stay safe.
But we are up against a systemic issue. A real catastrophe. 18,000 missing children is the consequence of failing governments and irresponsible policy.
When children seek asylum in Europe, they are not supported to reunite with their parents; they are not treated with respect and dignity; they are not appropriately fast-tracked or accommodated. Instead, they are victims of hostile asylum processes and border procedures that keep them waiting months and months in political limbo.
The result? Thousands of children taking their fate into their own hands, or worse, falling prey to exploitation and trafficking.
At Action for Education, we are witness every day to the struggles of young people undergoing the toughest of asylum procedures. On International Missing Children’s Day, we invite you to take action with us by joining the Lost in Europe cross-border journalism project. Find out more here.