Europol has recently published a report stating that at least 10,000 unaccompanied refugee children are missing. The EU’s law enforcement agency says ten thousand unaccompanied refugee children have disappeared since arriving in Europe, and that many “may have” fallen prey to traffickers.
Leonard Doyle, a migration advocate specialist questions whether this report will help or hinder the situation refugee children face in Europe.
“It’s disturbing,” Leonard Doyle tells As It Happens host Carol Off. “It’s also not surprising because there’s a lot of youngsters coming through the system and they are told by the smugglers that they should not register as minors, so you find a lot of teenagers pretending to be adults.”
Doyle welcomes Europol’s report but is hesitant to trust the staggering numbers will actually improve the welfare of refugees.
“We’re delighted that they’ve kind of drawn attention to it but we’d like to see the data behind it and we’d like to see a renewed effort to reinforce the support for these vulnerable people,” Doyle explains. “Whether it’s designed to support these youngsters or whether it’s designed to rank up the borders a bit higher — only time will tell.”
With ever mounting anxiety over Europe’s security and concerns over capacity and resources, Doyle fears the report could actually play on what he calls, “the kind of alarmism that’s knocking around the system.”
“I think the welcome mat is wearing a bit thin in Europe at the moment,” said Leonard Doyle.
Critics suggest the report is inaccurate and may overestimate the number of children. But Doyle is quick to dismiss these objections as redundant “xenophobic” rhetoric.
“These are minors by any definition so I wouldn’t give too much credence to the anti-migrant websites,” Doyle insists. “The danger is, whether they are coming in with or without parents, that they’re vulnerable because of the poverty they are going through and they are certainly prey to the sex trade and trafficking for child labour.”