Migrant children at serious risk of abuse, trafficking – UNICEF

GENEVA, May 6 (KUNA) — The UN children organization UNICEF on Friday called for urgent measures to protect unaccompanied refugee and migrant children in Europe.
They are at serious risk of abuse, trafficking and exploitation and their number reached a record of more than 95,000 last year, UNICEF said in a statement.
It noted that the Interpol estimates one in nine unaccompanied refugee and migrant children is unaccounted for or missing, but the figures are believed to be far higher.
In Slovenia, for instance, more than 80 per cent of unaccompanied children went missing from reception centers, while in Sweden up to 10 children are reported missing each week.
Earlier this year 4,700 unaccompanied children were recorded as missing in Germany.
UNICEF stressed the importance of speeding up decisions involving a child, pointing out that children currently have to wait up to 11 months between registration and transfer to a country that has agreed to accept them.
In addition, the organization called for shortening the waiting period to no longer than 90 days, immediate appointment of a guardian, and accelerated family reunification. This is key to protecting unaccompanied children and preventing them from going missing.
Latest available figures show that 96,500 unaccompanied children applied for asylum in Europe in 2015 – some 20 per cent of the total number of children who sought asylum, the UNICEF said. (end) ta.msa

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