At least 10 thousand refugee children in Europe “lost in the system”

(Photo Credit: International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies via Flickr Creative Commons)

Europe’s refugee crisis continues unabated. Now the European Union’s central police agency, Europol, says that thousands of refugee children are unaccounted for. Jacob Resneck reports.

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Out of the more than a million migrants that crossed into the EU last year, the current whereabouts of around 10,000 of minors is unknown.

“The figure of 10,000 would be a conservative estimate across all the countries that are dealing with this migrant crisis,” Europol chief Brian Donald said Monday.

The fact that children are lost in the system doesn’t necessarily mean they are in the hands of criminal gangs,  many are probably still with family and guardians and merely “lost in the system,” Donald said.

But the lack of accountability does mean there are thousands who have fallen through the cracks and that makes them vulnerable to exploitation.

“I think our concern is that we know that there are people out there who will exploit minors,” Donald told reporters. “We know there are people who will take them and use them for their own purposes. We are just trying to raise awareness that this is something everybody should be aware of.”

Europol says there are established links between organizations known for human trafficking and smugglers who are helping refugees clandestinely cross borders and enter the EU.

European leaders will meet March 17 in Brussels for yet another summit on the migrant crisis. But individual member states remain bitterly divided on how to respond to the hundreds of thousands that continue to flee war, strife and poverty for the relative safety of Europe.

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