Missing Children Europe's newsletter #11
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Dear supporters,

We hope that your 2019 is off to a joyful and successful start. We can't wait to share what Missing Children Europe has been up to at since last October.

First, we'd like to welcome four new members to the Missing Children Europe team. Last fall, Aagje Ieven joined as Missing Children Europe's new secretary general, and will continue to develop and build on Missing Children Europe's success. 2019 also brings new energy into the team. Since January, we have welcomed Ariane Poisson in communications, Reinhold Erdt as project assistant on children in migration, and Andrea Tedde in fundraising.

In January, we also launched the real #10YearChallenge facing missing kids to raise awareness of long-term disappearances, where we are forced to guess how that missing child may look today. The photos were shared throughout Europe on the social media channels of various national organisations, such as The Smile of the Child (Greece) and CFPE Enfants-Disparus (France), and garnered the attention of the press in four countries.

On February 20-22, we organised the third edition of the Lost in Migration conference: Global Strategies and Political Commitments jointly with the (Maltese) President's Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society. The conference brought together over 150 representatives, experts and decision makers from all over Europe and Africa to discuss the situation and protection of children at every stage of their migratory journey.

Through a series of workshops, attendees developed key recommendations to improve the situation of children in migration. For example, children should have access to child friendly procedures and information, and be swiftly appointed a qualified, trained and independent guardian. At Lost in Migration, we also launched a European campaign, which will center the concerns of youth participants from migration and refugee backgrounds ahead of the European elections. Keep an eye out!

Are you a lawyer, judge, court official or social worker? Missing Children Europe runs a project aiming at amplifying children's voices in child abduction cases, in collaboration with the universities of Genoa, Antwerp and Ghent, Centrum IKO (the Netherlands), MiKK (Germany) and Child Focus (Belgium). Register now for our training on the child in international child abduction cases in Genoa, Italy on 14-15 March 2019. This training will include themes such as hearing the child, assessing the child’s best interest, mediation and giving feedback to the child after the legal proceedings.

 If you missed it, check out the last edition of this newsletter. To receive regular updates and news from Missing Children Europe, find us on Facebook and Twitter. For more frequent updates on policy, projects and events on missing children, sign up for our newsflashes.
Up to 50% of Missing Children Europe's work relies on donations. Please consider helping us continue our work.

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Watch: Human by Raneem Almohandes, originally screened at Lost in Migration

Support Missing Children Europe

Our work wouldn't be possible without contributions from supporters like you. Here's how you can help us make a difference in children's lives:

REGISTER NOW to Golf with Missing Children Europe on Friday, May 10 2019 at the Royal Zoute Golf Club. The money raised through our golf events in 2018 and 2019 will go towards co-funding the project "Voice of the Child", which aims at amplifying children's voices in the court cases affecting them.

If you cannot participate in a fundraising event but wish to support Missing Children Europe, please consider making a donation. Donations of 40 EUR or more made by residents of France, Belgium and Luxembourg are eligible to receive a fiscal tax certificate.
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On the Ground: A Day Centre for Children Victims of Abuse in Greece

Missing Children Europe's Greek member, The Smile of the Child, is advancing a holistic approach to child protection because to really help resolve a child's troubled situation, every dimension of it needs to be addressed:

"At 'The Smile' we believe that a child can only be properly and effectively helped if the assistance effort encompasses an integrated response to these diverse aspects, without leaving gaps." -Panos Parldalis, International Communication at "The Smile of the Child"

"The House of the Child", a Day Centre in Athens developed in 2014 by “The Smile of the Child” provides customised mental health services to children and adolescents. The multi-disciplinary therapeutic team undertakes a holistic and comprehensive diagnostic evaluation and treatment of any kind of disorder that victimized children may suffer from. "The House of the Child" constitutes a specialized service, unique in Greece and innovative both in Europe and internationally.

This holistic approach is even more important for refugee and migrant children who face a wide range of issues: they need not only food and plain shelter, but also medical support, in quite a number of cases ambulance service, a security umbrella against the risks of human trafficking, smuggling or other forms of exploitation, support in view of potential family reunification, professional psychological support after their traumatic journey, administrative guidance for refugee status or asylum or social security, recreational activities, etc.

In the news


Runaways Children in migration

Thanks to all of you! 

Our work wouldn’t be possible without you. Thank you to our partners, sponsors and volunteers. 

Thank you to Alland & Robert, European Internet Forum, and Samsung for purchasing holiday cards from our annual Cards of Hope campaign.

We would also like to thank the EPP, EPIM, the European Commission, and the Maltese President's Office for financially supporting the third edition of Lost in Migration

A word from our Patron: László Andor

"Europe needs stronger social safety nets. The world has reentered a very turbulent period in politics and economics. Our societies are still vulnerable and we cannot allow children to pay the highest price for the mistakes and ignorance of others." -László Andor

László Andor is the Mercator Senior Fellow at the Hertie School of Governance and the former EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion. He became a Patron of Missing Children Europe in 2018.

1.  Why did you decided to become a Patron of Missing Children Europe?
I was invited to become a member of the Patron's Council at the recommendation of H.E. Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, President of Malta, with whom I worked on social policy when she was Malta's Minister of Social Affairs. At the time, the European Commission had adopted a Social Investment Package (SIP), carrying recommendations against child poverty. This invitation gave me the opportunity to return to a cause which I had considered so central during my mandate at the Commission. Some stakeholders believe that the SIP became somewhat sidelined in the subsequent period and that the fight against poverty, together with the EU level target for poverty reduction, is less prominent today than it used to be. European citizens however want the EU to support poverty reduction, even if they know that the fundamental responsibility for welfare remains with their national governments. I know that the EU can indeed do more to help the most vulnerable, in close cooperation with civil society.

2. As the former Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, can you tell us about your journey into the field of child protection and the biggest challenges you faced?
When I started as Commissioner, we wanted to bring the EU social agenda to a new territory: the joint fight against poverty, with a clear focus on child poverty. This was a challenge because in EU law and politics the meaning of social policy was concentrated on employment and working conditions. My time at the Commission overlapped with the long and extremely complex financial and economic crisis, when the EU had to find ways to address the social consequences of the crisis and shift towards a more resilient model. So we had to ensure that there were adequate resources in the EU budget for social integration and to aid the most deprived. For us, this was not simply a question of macro level statistics and budgetary envelops. When for example we adopted and promoted an EU framework for Roma integration strategies, particular attention was paid to Roma children who suffered multiple disadvantages in some Member States. In those societies, we had to stress the need for access to quality health care and schools, and oversee implementation on the ground as well. During my visits to Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, I visited kindergartens, schools and other projects where the EU was actually funding the creation or improvement of facilities for children with a disadvantaged background. Deinstitutionalisation was another important issue for which we advocated and continued to fund during my time.

3. What, in your opinion, are the challenges and developments we can expect in the near future in terms of children’s rights in Europe?
I look at this question from the perspective of advocacy at the level of the European Union. The next cycle of EU policy will be defined by the European Parliament elections that take place in May. In recent years, some of us have been advocating for a European Social Union, and the parliamentary election is the time to popularise this idea and gather support for it. What is at stake is the preservation of the social policies at the heart of the European Union. The incumbent Commission has made a major step in this area by promoting the European Pillar of Social Rights, in which a very important point (number 11) emphasises childcare and support to children. While this declaration was signed by leaders of all EU Member States, it is a major challenge today to ensure that the EU keeps the declaration high on the agenda and brings forward concrete measures for its implementation. The European Parliament has been marching forward and recently endorsed the idea of a Child Guarantee. In a way, this is a follow-up to the Youth Guarantee which I championed as a Commissioner. However, a genuine Child Guarantee cannot be an afterthought. It needs components most people do not automatically think about, such as extending EU action to the area of missing children. This would be an innovative component and would greatly impact the well-being of children in practically every EU country.

Recommended Reading: Still in Harm's Way

A new report by Missing People and ECPAT UK highlights the alarming number - 1 in 6 - of trafficked and unaccompanied children going missing from care - with many never found.

As one young person who went missing from care explained: “I can see why young people run away to their trafficker. It is ‘better the devil you know’.”

Using new data, Still in Harm’s Way reports that in 2017:
  • 1 in 4 (24%) trafficked children were reported as going missing from care (246 of 1,015)
  • 15% of unaccompanied children were reported as going missing from care (729 of 4,765)
  • 190 children had not been found; almost 20% of the total number of trafficked and unaccompanied children reported missing (975)

Following these alarming findings, action should be urgently taken to improve safeguarding at the local level. This must include:
  • mandatory training for social workers and other frontline workers responding to missing children,
  • the provision of safe and appropriate accommodation placements,
  • specialist guardianship for all unaccompanied and trafficked children,
  • a multi-agency decision-making process to ensure a long term, stable future for each child, and
  • the systematic data collection and reporting on this issue.
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 With the financial support from the “Rights, Equality and Citizenship 2014-2020” Programme of the European Union