In 2017, 618 unaccompanied migrant minors went missing in Belgium. The number is far higher than the two previous years. Figures then were respectively 284 (2016) and 277 (2015). The figures are reported in press publications on Monday. Child Focus has stated the figure for such migrants at 124.
Edward Landtsheere, from the Guardianship Service for the FPS Justice, stated, “We are catching more young migrants and sooner than previously. We are trying to convince them to go to our centres and seek asylum.” He goes on, “However, the majority of the time, these youngsters are once again trying to flee, with a view to reaching another country.”
Nevertheless, Child Focus’s big fear is that the increased number of migrants who have disappeared, is only the tip of the iceberg. No organisation or individual has official figures enabling the relevant authorities to know for sure how many children are entering Europe at any time, and therefore we cannot know how many are leaving. Of the 124 new cases over the past year, 66 remain unresolved.
Hilde Vautmans (Open Vld), the MEP who has published a work upon the problem is critical of the system, saying, “The disappearance of Belgian children is indicated within 24 hours. In contrast for minor migrants it may take days, even weeks.” Moreover, next week she will put a resolution before the European Parliament, proposing recommendations upon the issue.