Lost in Europe, a cross-border journalism project investigating missing child migrants in Europe has uncovered a shocking figure of 51,433 children who disappeared after arriving in European countries between 2021 and 2023

Over the past few months, Lost in Europe has gathered data from various European countries, focusing on the disappearances of unaccompanied minors. Specifically, their analysis encompasses 2021, 2022, and 2023, categorising the missing minors by their country of origin, gender, and age. 

Out of 27 EU countries, plus Moldova, Norway, the UK, and Switzerland, only 20 responded to their inquiries, and just 13 provided data. According to the available data, Italy has the highest number of registered missing unaccompanied minors, with 22,899, followed by Austria (20,077), Belgium (2,241), Germany (2,005), and Switzerland (1,226).

The number of missing children may be even higher because the data is often inconsistent and incomplete, and many countries in Europe do not even collect data on missing unaccompanied minors.

These figures have been described as “worrying” by Aagje Ieven, Secretary General of Missing Children Europe. “The increased number of reports on missing unaccompanied minors serves as a sharp reminder of the giant iceberg that looms beneath the surface,” Ieven told Lost in Europe.

Previously, in 2021, Lost in Europe found that at least 18,000 unaccompanied minors had disappeared after arriving in Europe between 2018 and 2020. Their latest data in 2024 shows that the numbers have substantially increased.

Lost in Europe's findings are published today in multiple European media such as NRC, CNN, ANSA, ARD/rbb, De Standaard, Knack, Noteworthy, and Εfimerida ton Syntakto.

These shocking findings underscore the seriousness of the issue, with thousands of children missing and their whereabouts unknown.

Stay tuned for updates as Lost in Europe continues to delve into the complexities of this issue.

Access to the data gathered by Lost in Europe can be found via this public Excel link, which clearly outlines all the data.


Emma van den Hof
Emma van den Hof
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