Together Against Trafficking in Human Beings

Disappearing, departing, running away - A surfeit of children in Europe

Disappearing, departing, running away - A surfeit of children in Europe

Terre des Homme, 2010, 88 pages

The study - carried out in Belgium, France, Spain and Switzerland in 2008-2009 - focuses on the alarming phenomenon of foreign unaccompanied minors disappearing from institutions.

The study has mainly been conducted through interviews with approximately 90 professionals in charge in these institutions. It includes recommendations to governments, legislative authorities, the judiciary and social services.

The following observations are made:

  • The disappearance of children from institutions is not a marginal or rare phenomenon
  • The phenomenon is known at local and regional levels, but the publication of consolidated national statistics is non-existent
  • The different criteria at local and regional levels for taking minors into care and supporting them and the fact that the services concerned operate in isolation does not make it easy to determine the scope and seriousness of the phenomenon
  • Some of the people in charge of institutions consider the term disappearance to be inappropriate, as for some this would call for the initiation of a judicial investigation; some even consider the disappearance to be simply the minor's free choice
  • Some other people in charge of institutions recognise their direct professional responsibility