More than 120 child refugees trafficked to the UK from Northern France have gone missing, a new report has revealed
Their disappearance has raised concerns about the British government’s lack of action.
The NSPCC has called on the UK government to bolster cross-border arrangements on child trafficking after it emerged children as young as nine had been sexually abused and forced to take drugs by traffickers promising to take them to Britain.
Their report added that there was a 22-percent increase in missing cases since last July, when the number stood at 104.
Press TV reports: The children are among hundreds of displaced people who continue to live without adequate emergency shelter or proper access to drinking water near the border in Calais and Dunkirk, in situations that the UN recently described as an “inhumane.”
The NSPCC’s Child Trafficking Advice Centre (CTAC) has been working with the Refugee Youth Service (RYS), a Calais-based charity, to locate the missing children. It has so far located 68 of them but 128 remain missing.
CTAC has received reports that children as young as nine have been taken into the UK without their parents’ knowledge and have disappeared from refugee camps amid inaction by officials to find them.
“A lack of shelter, restricted access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities and lack of access to education create a catalyst for desperation within minors whereby they seek to leave France and reach the UK through informal means,” Amanda Regan, of the RYS, told The Independent.
She criticized the government for no providing effective mechanisms to report the missing cases in time.
“For these unlocatable minors, there is no functioning reporting mechanism. Much work needs to be done with authorities on both sides of the channel, and indeed across Europe, to create a system of reporting children who are being moved under the radar,” she added.
Almudena Lara, head of policy at the NSPCC, echoed the criticism, saying the UK needed to take additional steps and work with France to address the problem.
“Countries have a legal duty to protect child victims, so the protections currently offered by cross-border arrangements must be guaranteed after Brexit,” she said.
Josie Naughton, chief executive and co-founder of charity Help Refugees, said the report underlined the “absence of safe and legal routes” for child refugees.