11 unaccompanied migrant children missing since 2019

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Eleven unaccompanied migrant children have gone missing since arriving in Cyprus over the last three years, four of them in 2022, said the Deputy Ministry of Social Welfare.

In a note to the House, the junior ministry said that 11 migrant children arriving in Cyprus have gone missing between 2019 and April.

Police received missing person reports for four children in 2019, three in 2021, and another four in the first four months of this year.

Ruling DISY MP Kyriakos Hadjiyiannis told reporters following a meeting of the House Interior Committee that police applied “double standards” when it comes to missing migrant children.

“It is inconceivable that the police would act differently if my child were lost than in the event an immigrant child disappears,” said Hadjiyiannis.

“The same procedures, legislation, and zeal should be applied in all missing children cases.”

Greens MP Alexandra Attalides said she was informed of five unaccompanied children going missing from the Pournara migrant reception centre in Nicosia.

“These children have gone missing while they were under the custody and care of the state. This is a very serious matter.”

Attalides said she has personally submitted a parliamentary question regarding the conditions under which the children went missing.

“If five Cypriot children went missing, the whole of society would be in discontent.

“It is not possible for five children from third countries to be lost and for the whole of society not to be on alert”.

The MP said the first of these children were reported missing in October 2021, with the rest reported in the first four months of 2022.

She fears these children could have fallen victim to organ or sex trafficking.

In response to criticism, the police did not take the necessary action. Deputy Director of the crime prevention department, Kyriaki Lambrianidou, argued that the force had responded appropriately and was not dragging its feet.

“All missing children are children to us. We responded immediately, also sending out alerts to the public to help with searches,” Lambrianidou told CyBC TV on Friday.