Statue in Brussels draws attention to children on the run
Between 2018 and 2020, at least 18.292 unaccompanied minors on the run have disappeared off the radar in Europe, according to the journalistic research project 'Lost in Europe'. This amounts to almost 17 lost children every day. To mark this year's World Children's Day, on Sunday November 20th, Refugee Work Flanders and Caritas International are sounding the alarm. From Friday to Sunday, they will display a statue of a child, symbolically playing hide-and-seek with his friends, at Place du Luxembourg in Brussels.
Every year, thousands of children on the run disappear off the radar in Europe. Uncertain residency status and limited access to care and shelter make these children especially vulnerable to dangerous situations. They are feared to have become victims of drug gangs, forced begging, human traffickers or sold into the sex industry. Others may have travelled to family or friends in Europe without reporting it. The initiators said that these children also deserve care and a safe haven so they can be and remain children.
The shelter crisis in our country has painfully exposed the vulnerability of children on the run. "Since mid-October, babies, toddlers and infants have been sleeping on the streets with their families, as have 150 minors who came to Belgium unaccompanied. More than a month later, there are over 100 children for whom there is still no solution and who are still forced to sleep on the streets. This is inhumane and child-unworthy and compromises the safety of these children - precisely the safety and care that these minors so desperately need," argues Tine Claus, director at Refugee Work Vlaanderen.
The NGO also links the action to the ongoing petition calling on the government to take responsibility and provide appropriate shelter and care, because every child deserves a safe home, Claus pointed out.
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