Over the last two years, well over 10,000 refugee children seeking asylum in Europe have gone missing, according to Europol, a law enforcement agency for the European Union, and that’s considered a vastly conservative estimate. It’s enough to make Lady Liberty hike up her robe and dab her eyes dry for all the tears it’s been causing. Despite the frigid temperatures and tossing sea January inevitably brings about, tens of thousands are still terrified enough to make the journey, and children face danger and exploitation every step of the way, even once they reach Europe.
“Not all of them will be criminally exploited; some might have been passed on to family members. We just don’t know where they are, what they’re doing or whom they are with,” Europol Chief of Staff Brian Donald told Agence France-Presse, Sunday, which is exactly why Europol needs to get to the bottom of it all.
More than a million people have sought asylum in Europe in the last year, as conflict-torn countries across the Middle East and North Africa escalate in violence. Over half of the million+ asylum seekers have come from Syria alone. According to the United Nations, a January report states 55 percent of refugees now in Europe are women and children, 27 percent of which are children.
— BBC World Service (@bbcworldservice) January 31, 2016
The numbers Europol uses to base their projected numbers on stem from those who at one time or another registered as asylum-seekers, but who have since fallen off authorities’ radar. Some 5,000 to 10,000 children disappeared in Italy alone, not to mention those arriving in Greece, Turkey—you name it.
Complicating matters further, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other EU leaders are working to put a cork in the bureaucratic bottlenecks already created in order to significantly slow the flow of refugees into the European Union. One such bottleneck can be found in places like Macedonia, where border guards and police have been piled up in the hopes of holding back hopeful refugees while leaders try to figure out what to do with them all.
German Interior Minister Thomas de Maziere told Der Spiegel magazine:
‘So no matter what, we need to prevent the influx from massively increasing again in the spring. Time is running out.’
Perhaps one of the greatest shames in the refugee predicament, however, is the putting of cost, of money, and the bottom line ahead of lives. When people are in need, when they are facing death and their backs are against the wall, you help them and worry about the cost later. Cost will work itself out. Money comes and goes, always, but lives lost are lost forever. It is not just the war, the violence, and the conflict we should all be ashamed of as we play at believing we are actually a civilized, “superior” animal of reason, but the use of that reason to rationalize away helping those who have nothing, who face death, simply because we do not wish to face economic hardship.