Lost in Europe is a not-for-profit cross-border journalism project which investigates and uncovers the stories of child migrants ‘lost’ after arriving in Europe. Our investigation was prompted by a comment made by a former Europol chief of staff in 2016. Who had said that no fewer than 10,000 migrant children have gone missing in Europe.

These children are feared to have fallen into the hands of drug gangs, forced begging, human traffickers, or were sold into the sex industry. While others may have travelled to family or friends in Europe without reporting it. Some have all but disappeared.

The plight of unaccompanied child migrants is one of the most pressing issues of our time. The goal of Lost in Europe is therefore to recover the stories of these missing children and shine a light on wrongdoing. It comprises a team of 23 investigative journalists from 12 European countries, including the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Italy and the UK, who are collaborating to find out what has happened to these disappeared children in Europe.

Since Lost in Europe was founded we have made a number of important findings. In 2021, we found that at least 18,000 unaccompanied child migrants have disappeared after arriving in Europe between 2018 and 2020 – equivalent to nearly 17 children a day. In 2019, we revealed that at least 60 Vietnamese children had escaped Dutch asylum shelters to be trafficked into Britain with authorities suspecting that most of the children had ended up working on cannabis farms and nail salons. For this investigation we won the inaugural Investigative Journalism for Europe (IJ4EU) Impact Award 2021.

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