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Alarming Increase in Missing Migrant Children Sparks Concerns in Ireland…

Dublin: Recent reports have brought attention to a concerning situation in Ireland, where sixty-two refugee children who arrived in the country are reported missing from their shelters. Additionally, the Child Welfare Agency has highlighted the issue of migrant children going missing from Tusla’s care centres after turning 18, with authorities expressing concerns about an uptick in gangs exploiting vulnerable youth in residential care.

Despite the severity of the situation, the investigation team is not actively searching for the 44 missing persons listed. Furthermore, there has been a lack of public appeals from An Garda Síochána (AGS) regarding these missing children.

The University College Dublin (UCD) Sexual Exploitation Research Programme (SERP) released a report in July revealing that some missing children from Tusla care homes had become victims of organised sexual exploitation. This distressing revelation underscores the urgency of addressing the issue and implementing measures to ensure the safety of these vulnerable individuals.

Notably, the national missing persons database maintained by Gardaí indicates a significant gap between the number of missing children and the appeals made, with only 16 appeals out of over 60 missing cases recorded by Tusla.

Over the past 11 months, 20 refugee minors have gone missing from government care, raising questions about the adequacy of protective measures. It is disconcerting that public appeals to locate over 75% of missing migrant minors have not been initiated.

Anti-trafficking organisations stress the need for public vigilance, emphasising that Ireland is not immune to various forms of exploitation, including sexual exploitation, forced labour, forced begging, criminal exploitation, forced marriage, removal of organs, and domestic slavery.

JP O’Sullivan, network manager at MECPATHS, a front-line workers’ organisation, highlighted the vulnerability of young migrants. Notably, figures on the Missing Children website indicate that a majority of missing children are Chinese girls. There is a growing concern that these vulnerable children may be targeted for criminal activities or exploitation.

Instances of children being exploited to support hoteliers have also been reported, prompting serious consideration by Gardaí on why refugee minors are being treated differently from Irish children. Urgent action and a unified effort are needed to address this crisis and ensure the safety and well-being of these missing migrant children in Ireland.

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