MEPs called for safe environments for unaccompanied refugee children, including immediate appointment of guardians, hotlines and increased cross-border cooperation, in Wednesday’s debate with Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos on the disappearance of migrant children in Europe.
Members also debated how to make it easier to trace the children, by taking photos or fingerprints, and underlined that the fight against criminals exploiting them should be stepped up.
It is feared that some of these children are being sexually exploited by criminal gangs or forced to beg or commit crimes. Others may have disappeared while searching for their families in other EU countries or out of desperation over cumbersome asylum procedures or detention in reception centres. Around 10,000 unaccompanied refugee children have gone missing after arriving in Europe, Europol estimated in 2016.