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Leading to this edition of Lost in Migration

Since 2015, a growing number of children have arrived in Europe – often unaccompanied. The strain on protection systems at local level and the limited use of solidarity mechanisms from EU member states have increasingly exposed children to violence, exploitation and abuse. According to Europol, at least 10 000 unaccompanied children went missing in 2015, and national reports prove that children have continued to go missing due to poor conditions in some reception centres, lack of information on their rights and options, slow and complex procedures for protection, lack of training for professionals in contact with children, and lack of coordination at national and cross-border level. Human traffickers have increasingly targeted children in migration, particularly when unaccompanied. 

In May 2015, the European Commission adopted an EU Agenda on Migration in which it promised to develop a comprehensive strategy to protect children in migration. In November 2016 the European Commission organised the EU Forum on the rights of the child, focusing on children in migration. At this meeting, NGOs demanded that the Commission follow up on its commitment to develop this strategy, emphasising that an EU Action Plan on all refugee and migrant children is necessary to coordinate actions and mobilise resources. It would represent EU commitment at the highest level, effectively bring together the various responsible authorities, agencies and civil society in Member States and in the EU and develop more concrete and well-resourced processes and actions for these young newcomers.”

In January 2017, coinciding with the European Justice and Home Affairs Council, Missing Children Europe and the Maltese President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society, with the support of the European Programme on Integration and Migration (EPIM), brought together 160 professionals and experts to discuss the child protection challenges that lead to disappearances of these children. Conclusions of this conference – entitled “Lost in Migration” - were endorsed by over 50 organisations and shared with national and European authorities. In February 2017, Members of the European Parliament submitted an oral question in plenary, calling upon the Commission to follow up on the recommendations of the Lost in Migration conference.

In April 2017, the European Commission eventually adopted the long-awaited strategy through the Commission Communication on the protection of children in migration, outlining 37 priority actions for the European and national level.

In November 2017, the European Commission organised the 11th Forum on the Rights of the Child with a focus on children deprived of liberty (children in conflict with the law, immigration detention, children in institutions and children of parents in prison) and alternatives to detention, ahead of the UN global study on children deprived of liberty, the theme of this edition of the Forum.

In April 2018, Missing Children Europe, the Maltese President’s Foundation for the Well-Being of Society, Members of the European Parliament, The Alliance of Liberal and Democrats for Europe at the European Parliament, the Intergroup on the Rights of the Child and the EPIM foundation, convened the second edition of the Lost in Migration conference in Brussels to take stock of the progress achieved since the adoption of the EC Communication on the protection of children in migration. The outcome of the event was:

  1. A selection of good / promising practices in the implementation of the commitments at the local level, especially local authorities, with specific recommendations on how to mainstream these practices in another context
  2. Operational and policy recommendations on how to implement the guidance provided by the Commission Communication at national and local level.
  3. The launch of the app MINIILA, providing information to children on the move on their rights and the support available according to their location, developed with the financial support of the H&M Foundation

In May 2018, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the protection of children in migration.


Find the recommendations of the second edition of Lost in Migration here 

Find the study “ Lost in Migration - Challenges and progress in implementing the European Commission Communication on the Protection of Children in Migration: Providing effective protection and enhancing integration at local level here

Find the second edition booklet here 

Find a list of media coverage of the event on our press page.

For more information, please contact Federica Toscano, Head of Programme on Children in Migration at Missing Children Europe.