Over 2,500 children have disappeared from refugee centres in the Netherlands over the past 10 years and no-one knows where most of them are, the NRC reported on Monday.
Some of the under-18s will have travelled on to find family in the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe but a proportion will have ended up in the hands of human traffickers or in prostitution, refugee agency COA says.
In total, some 11,700 under-18s claimed asylum in the Netherlands without one or both parents in the 10 years to the end of 2019 and at least 2,556 have vanished. The final total may be higher because Nidos, the agency charged with looking after unaccompanied minors, did not provide the NRC with figures from 2011 to 2014.
COA staff told the paper there is little they can do to stop children disappearing. Sometimes they spot strange people or cars waiting outside refugee centres, in which cases they note the licence plate and report it to the police.
In 2006, after it became clear girls from Nigeria were being trafficked as refugees and forced into prostitution, officials began improving their registration systems, the paper said.
Children considered to be most vulnerable to being trafficked are kept in more secure accommodation and officials say they are doing all they can to try to reduce the risk of the child disappearing.
‘But it is not possible to guarantee that no young, unaccompanied refugees will leave the shelters,’ a spokesman told the paper.
Most of the children who disappeared came from Afghanistan, Morocco, Algeria, Albania, Eritrea, Syria and Vietnam.
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