Concern at rise in cross-border child abductions

More children are being reported missing after being taken out of the country by one of their parents, according to the agency set up to tackle the problem.

The number of international abductions recorded in 2016 was 251, an increase of 14 on the previous year. Turkey was the most common destination for abducted children, followed by Belgium, Germany and Poland.

The Centre for International Child Abduction (Centrum IKO) said it was unclear whether the increase was the result of a rising trend in abduction or more awareness of its work leading to more people reporting missing children.

It said many parents who had their children taken away by their partners were reluctant to come forward because of the stigma attached.

‘People’s acquaintances often react negatively if their partner takes off with the children after a relationship breakdown,’ said a spokesman quoted by RTL Nieuws. ‘They say, “Well, we warned you.” So the other parent is left feeling ashamed.’

Women were responsible for seven in 10 international child abductions. The majority of children involved were under the age of six and in half of all cases they did not return to the Netherlands, Centrum IKO reported.

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