Missing refugee

‘Missing refugee and migrant children in Europe’

Yasin Aktay

It’s no secret that the issue of refugees is one of the biggest challenges the European Union has faced in the past few years. The bloc was in a state of total disarray in the way it recently handled the issue despite all its values, standards and quality in management.

Nevertheless, we must keep in mind that the European Union was not unaware of this risk. There has always an expectation about what several successive waves of asylum could mean for a large union such as the EU, and it’s for this exact reason that the countries of the bloc started to build thick security walls between their upscale societies and the surrounding territories.

The high security walls and the concept behind them were, above all, a measure taken by the EU to confront refugees, because the history of the continent is rife with shameful chapters, contrary to all claims today, of rampant xenophobia, fascism and human exploitation. Europe held Jews and the Romani people, who are considered a minority, responsible for all of the continent’s economic problems 70 years ago, and it used this as an excuse to justify their brutal extermination. In this context, Europe’s track record proves that it does not shied away from killing millions of people in brutal massacres. There is no doubt that the refugee issue is a difficult test for Europe, just as Germany in particular has tried to extract lessons and learn from its painful experiences in the past, making great efforts not to face the same fate again.

Regardless of what they say about Europe’s reception of Syrian refugees, Germany has done something that needs to be commended by taking in more than a million refugees; it did so while bearing in mind the problems that the presence of refugees on its soil will cause, such as xenophobia and the extremist rhetoric espoused by right-wing politicians.

Meanwhile, the rest of the EU did not shoulder the same responsibility and burden taken up by Germany; instead not only did xenophobia and the spread of right-wing movements in these countries not die down, but rather it experienced a significant resurgence. When refugees seek asylum in a country, they do so in a peaceful manner, looking just to make ends meet.

They are thus people who do not enjoy any advantages, since the legal support they’re promised is ambiguous at best and they’re in a dire psychological state after being subjected to numerous injustices and persecutions. That is why asylum is regarded as a human right, and the humane treatment of refugees has become an international norm.

Of course, not only do refugees face problems related to sustenance, but they also struggle to protect their security. For example, they may be exposed to conditions that make them unable to protect their children due to the measures taken by the governments of countries in which they sought refuge, which makes them more vulnerable.

Turkish deputy Serap Yasar, a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, has prepared a report dealing with the issue of missing refugee and migrant children in Europe based on the information that more than 10,000 refugee children have gone off the grid after they set foot in European member states, which corroborates information from a 2016 report prepared by the European Law Enforcement Agency (Europol). The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted the report after it was put to a vote. This report indicates that the number of missing refugee children in Germany between 2017 and 2019 stood at over 11,000, while in France this number was 6,000.

About 20,000 refugee children went missing In Italy between 2018 and 2019, while in Spain alone 9,218 disappeared in 2018. Meanwhile, the number has reached 4,659 in Sweden between 2009 and 2019, and it stood at 1,600 in The Netherlands between 2015 and 2019.

In the U.K., between the years of 2015 and 2016 the number of missing refugee children reached 1,337. When we take into consideration the situation in other countries as well, the bigger picture shows that it seems that a refugee child in Europe goes missing every two minutes. On the international level, this holds the record for the single biggest daily rate of disappearance or death of a registered refugee child anywhere in the world.

These statistics are truly terrifying and paint a grim reality that demonstrates how refugees are being silently attacked in countries across Europe where they came in search of safety. In addition to the trauma suffered by refugees in their own countries, additional pain is being inflicted on them in the countries where they have taken refuge. How do these children disappear? Who kidnapped them and for what purpose are they exploiting them? It is not difficult to guess that some of them fall prey to the organ trade mafia. What types of other exploitation are the rest of these children being subjected to?

Turkish MP Yasar’s report touches on all these issues, indicating that the United Nations (UN) documented the death or disappearance of registered refugee children daily around the world between 2014-2018; and it also shows that these numbers are only the tip of the iceberg as there are many disappearance cases that have not been documented. The report adds that these children need special protection in the face of risks related to violence, sexual exploitation and human trafficking.

The report also stressed that all member states of the Council of Europe are parties to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and they are therefore obligated to provide the necessary care to achieve an adequate standard of living for children, which requires that the best interests of these children be considered as a key component. The report suggested that member states assume certain responsibilities in this regard, stressing the need to meet the basic needs and rights of children, and taking into account the specific requirements of the issue of their protection as a top priority.

There is no doubt that the chief concern among these possible measures is changing the general perception of refugees and to consider asylum as a human condition that can befall anyone of us at any time. Perhaps a more sympathetic initiative for refugees based on this consideration and a legal initiative that grants them more rights provides us with a model that can help refugees to protect both themselves and their children.

Otherwise, no one will be able to prevent refugee children from being used as commercial products. A civilization that murders children has nothing to offer its own kids or other nations for that matter. By the way, I would like to congratulate Mrs. Yasar on her handling of this humanitarian issue and for the great lengths she went to so that she could pass the report in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

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