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Taking action to prevent the disappearance of thousands of refugee and migrant children

PACE Committee on Migration has called on national parliaments and governments of the Member States to do "whatever is necessary and required in the best interests of the child" to avoid the disappearance of thousands of child refugees and migrants around the world.

According to the UN, one registered migrant child was reported dead or missing every day between 2014 and 2018 worldwide. Many forms of violence against these children lead to their disappearance as they "vanish" into clandestine networks.

While recalling that all Council of Europe member states are parties to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and therefore must uphold the best interests of children as a primary consideration, the Committee called on governments to ensure that reception conditions and care for child migrant and refugees fulfil the basic rights and needs of these people. "On no account should children be placed in detention" and refugee and migrant children should be “accommodated as far as possible with their families," the Committee said. International cooperation between the police and the judicial authorities should be strengthened to prevent their disappearance, and civil society organizations helping to find them should be supported in their work.

The committee recalled that undocumented children are extremely vulnerable because they lack the protection of the law. In order to prevent them from becoming undocumented, member states should ensure that every undocumented migrant child is registered and identified by the authorities, and that their data is shared through networks such as Interpol or the Schengen Information System. Research should also be carried out actively to find the family members of refugee and migrant children in order to reunite them.