Monday 16 May 2022

Dozens of pregnant women disappear from Dutch refugee centres


At least 25 pregnant women from different African countries disappeared from Dutch refugee centres in November and December, according to radio current affairs show Argos.

The programme bases its claims on an alert issued by Dutch human trafficking centre EMM to midwives in January, and police have confirmed the disappearances, Argos said.

Midwives have been asked to watch out for signs of human trafficking and to report any suspicions that the women are under outside pressure. The departures do not make sense because the women were in the Netherlands legally, had a legitimate address and access to medical care, the EMM said.

The women who vanished mainly come from Nigeria but some were from Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. Officials believe they risk being trafficked and their children could be illegally adopted or even used in voodoo rituals, Argos said.


Disappearances from refugee centres are a major European issue and Argos is part of a European journalists network Lost in Europe, which has been researching the problem for 20 years.

In January, the NRC reported that 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.

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 said at the time.

One of the young Vietnamese teenagers who died in a refrigerated lorry in England in 2019 had run away from a secure unit for vulnerable refugees in the Netherlands.

And in the late 2000s, over 100 Nigerian girls disappeared from Dutch refugee centres, several of whom were later found in Italian brothels.

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