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Rome Reports

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Missing and exploited refugee children numbers rise

Every two minutes, one child is reported missing in Europe. In 2015, 54 percent of these cases were runaways, around 30 percent were parental abductions and 2 percent were unaccompanied children running away.  During the process of migration in 2015, 89,000 unaccompanied children arrived in the European Union. From that number, 10,000 children have been reported missing after being separated from their families, whether intentional or not. Many then become another staggering statistic of criminal exploitation facing authorities throughout Europe.  FEDERICA TOSCANO Missing Children Europe "It is an increasing issue because trafficking leaders are increasingly targeting children that come to Europe from non-European countries. So when they are exploited, many fear that they'll end up in sexual exploitation. It is very difficult to obtain data on that, also because there is not really a follow-up on the cases of disappearances.â?  What is startling is that there is now an increase in younger children going missing. In fact, 29 percent of all children, accompanied and unaccompanied, asking for asylum in 2015 were under age 18 and 60,000 of them were below 14 years old.  In order to reverse these trends, "Missing Children Europeâ? has asked governments to get involved and help the needy children in their country. FEDERICA TOSCANO Missing Children Europe "It is also important that governments and authorities treat all children equally, and they don't use double standards because a child is not from the European Union. It's important to ask governments to make sure the right protection systems are in place and that these children, if missing, are treated as any other child.â?  However, upon arrival in these new countries, children are forced into survival mode, which is why they need additional government assistance. About 20 percent are assumed to sleep on the streets, 13 percent steal to survive and one in 12 children have an increased risk of being victims of abuse. FEDERICA TOSCANO Missing Children Europe "It has been also important to hear Pope Francis talk about respecting refugees, welcoming children, treating all children equally, protecting children and ensuring that their rights are respected. Because the authority of the pope is something that several governments listen to and; therefore, it is important to make sure that his messages are sent out loud.â? The pope has been sending this message loud and clear to the public, both in his public addresses and in his actions in bringing refugees to Rome, meeting and eating with them and even inviting them around him during one of his General Audiences.  "Missing Children Europeâ? hopes Pope Francis will inspire governments to help missing children in their respective countries, and return them to their safety, away from the risk of exploitation. MB UNIfeed/RR -VM PR Up:MB