Prague, April 22 (IANS) The Council of Europe (CoE) warned on Friday of the serious risks that unaccompanied refugee children were increasingly facing when they arrive to Europe fleeing conflict.
The CoE’s Secretary General, Thorbjørn Jagland expressed his deep concern at a press conference in Prague that many unaccompanied children were falling prey to child abuse and sexual exploitation by criminal networks, Efe news agency reported.
Many arrivals were completely on their own and in many cases unable to rejoin their families, even if they also happened to be in Europe.
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimates that last Winter some 25,000 unaccompanied refugee children were trapped just in Greece and the Balkans.
Jagland explained that these children were completely out of any control of state authorities and it was obvious the human traffickers were making off with them.
He underscored that this unaccompanied child migration phenomenon was a “growing problem than required being addressed by national authorities, but also at European level.”
The CoE secretary general regretted that the EU lacked a unified response to face the massive refugee influx, after the Brussels failure to assign asylum seeking national quotas among all member countries.
“We are very worried that there is no unified position on the European side. Some countries like Greece or Italy have been left to deal with the problem and that is why we have the growing problem of unaccompanied (refugee) children,” said Jagland.