Most missing minors in Greece in 2018 found, unaccompanied refugees exception

The overwhelming majority of minors who went missing in Greece during 2018 were found, with the exception of unaccompanied refugees where many cases remained unresolved, according to Greek police data released here on Monday.

A total of 299 children went missing in Greece last year and 257 of them were eventually found, according to the police report presented during an event organized by the local NGO “The Smile of the Child” on the occasion of the International Missing Children’s Day which is marked on May 25 every year.

The 85.9 percent is the highest recovery percentage in Europe and one of the highest internationally, experts said, according to Greek national news agency AMNA.

In the first four months of 2019, 45 boys and 71 girls went missing, of whom 39 boys and 58 girls were found.

Data concerning unaccompanied minors, however, is more problematic, as 1,110 children went missing in Greece in 2018 with only 421 found, while in the first four months of 2019 some 404 children went missing, of whom only 137 were found.

According to Missing Children Europe, one of the most frequent reasons for the disappearance of refugee and migrant children is the lack of confidence in authorities and disappointment with the reception hospitality facilities.

Most of the missing minors were Greek nationals, followed by Albanian and Pakistani nationalities, and aged between 13 and 18, Greek Police’s head of Missing Persons Subdivision, Nikolaos Zervakakos, said.

Younger children’s disappearance is usually the result of parental kidnapping, he explained.

Greece’s Supreme Court Prosecutor, Xeni Dimitriou, who also participated in Monday’s event, underlined the major significance of stronger cooperation between all relevant authorities to effectively and promptly support the minors in need of help.

As part of efforts in this direction, a round of special educational seminars for prosecutors, judges and police officers started earlier this spring in Greece, she said.