International Missing Children’s Day: Guidance Note on reporting missing refugee and migrant children

A young refugee boy runs under a line of wet clothes left to dry on a train wagon near the Idomeni transit station where more than 10,000 refugees and migrants remain despite the signing of the EU - Turkey migrant deal and the closure of the so-called Western Balkan Route. ; Despite the closure of the so called Western Balkan Route more than 10,000 refugees and migrants remain on the Greek side of the border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, near the small village of Idomeni, hoping that the borders will re-open and they will be able to continue their journey northwards. At the Idomeni transit station which is currently running at five times its capacity food, water, shelter and medicine are running out as Greek authorities are struggling to cope.

The Smile of the Child as the national operator of all actions for missing children in cooperation with the Greek authorities and UNHCR Representation in Greece are issuing on the occasion of the International Missing Children’s Day, marked on 25 May, the Guidance Note on reporting missing refugee and migrant children in Greece.

According to the resolution 2324/2020 on Missing refugee and migrant children in Europe adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in February 2020, children are in need of special protection against the multiple dangers they face along their journey, among them violence, sexual abuse, human trafficking and exploitation. Despite the big numbers of unaccompanied children going missing from reception and care facilities in Greece, as acknowledged by the relevant authorities and child protection practitioners, only a small number of the former is being reported.

Under the framework of the memorandum of cooperation signed by UNHCR and the Smile of the Child in 2018, the two organisations worked hand in hand to promote the use of the national reporting mechanism for missing children by all authorities and actors working with refugee and migrant children. The guidance note is the product of the Roundtable on Missing Refugee and Migrant children organised in November 2019 by the Child Protection sub Working Group, UNHCR and the Smile of the Child where all the relevant authorities participated.

The content of the guidance note has been reviewed by the Hellenic Police: the Migration Management Division/ Hellenic Police Headquarters Aliens and Border Protection Branch, the Sub-Division of Fugitives and Missing Persons, Civilians Files and Identification Cards Management/ Security Directorate of Attica, the Sub-Division for Minors Protection / Hellenic Police Headquarters, the Subdivision of Organised Crime and Human Trafficking/ Department for Anti-Trafficking Human Beings/ Security directorate of Attica, the Department of Anti-Drag And Juvenile Delinquency/ Hellenic Police Headquarters, Public Security Division. Further promotion for the use of the national reporting mechanism will include the training of front-line workers at the entry points and in the mainland on its effective use as well as on measures to prevent children from going missing and psychosocial support measures once they are found.

Read the Guidance Note here.