According to Europol’s chief of staff, Brian Donald, no less than 10,000 migrant children went missing in Europe. It is feared that some of them fell into the hands of drug gangs, human traffickers, or were sold into the sex industry. Others may have travelled to family or friends in Europe without reporting it. They have all but disappeared.
The plight of unaccompanied child migrants is one of the most pressing issues in the migrant crisis. The goal of the investigative journalism collective Lost in Europe is to recover the stories of these missing children. It comprises a team of journalists from the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Germany, France, Greece and the UK. In the last years, Lost in Europe reporters analysed asylum procedures and migration policies and researched the gaps in EU legislation that allow many migrant minors to disappear. They documented the routes taken by unaccompanied minors to travel within Europe, the vulnerabilities they are exposed to, and the hardship they encounter. They discovered the exact number of children who died trying at European borders from 2018 to 2021: they were at least 440, including 35 babies and 33 pregnant women.
Other Lost in Europe investigations concern specific trafficking schemes involving migrant children. From 2019 on, the collaborative team conducted an award-winning investigation about Vietnamese minors who kept disappearing from protected shelters in Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands or France to be trafficked and exploited in nail salons or massage parlours, and increasingly also in forced prostitution or drug production.
For this kind of investigation, tips from individuals and organizations are of vital importance: for example, the information about the systematic disappearance of Nigerian pregnant women from asylum seekers centres in the Netherlands lead to an investigation on human trafficking networks and illegal adoption. But sharing information with journalists can be scary, especially concerning such sensitive topics. That’s why Lost in Europe, in collaboration with the open-source innovative software GlobaLeaks, created a new safe and anonymous whistleblowing platform.
Your tip could be the missing piece.