Thousands of refugee children have gone missing after arriving in Europe. How is that possible? Why does no one know where they are and what happened? And why doesn't anyone know exactly how many there are? Two years ago, Europol named the number of 10,000 missing refugee children. It was an estimate. They fear the children will become victims of criminal networks. Yet nothing has changed since then. In fact, this week, Europol reports that there is still no insight into the number of refugee children who are victims of human traffickers. "But a future increase is expected." How can thousands of children just disappear in Europe? And does this also happen in the Netherlands? The international journalist collective 'Lost in Europe' is looking.
All roads lead to Rome. It's an old saying that never went out of style. Many people still come to Rome for work or holidays. For many refugees it is an important destination too, where they receive help from the various communities that have settled there. In addition, a large network of NGOs and volunteers provides informal facilities: from housing and care to voluntary legal aid, mental assistance, food and clothes. But the new trend in Italian politics, initiated by former Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, to crack down on migrants led to many evictions in Rome and the closure of illegal shelters. This includes the closure of an abandoned chemical plant called "Ex-Penicillina" and "Baobab", and an informal camp at Tiburtina train station.
In Kosovo, a highly established smuggling network has started a large flow of underage children leaving for Italy. Thanks to the 'Zampa law' (2017), they have a chance to a study- or work permit if they report to the Italian immigration service as a minor. The law was intended to prevent unaccompanied asylum children going missing, but it encourages people smuggling. "It is a company of 100,000 euros a month, but nobody seems to care," said the prosecutor in Trieste.