Nearly 4,500 underage migrants who applied for asylum in Austria last year have reportedly gone missing, prompting concerns some may have fallen victim to human traffickers.
Figures from the Austrian Interior Ministry reveal that 78 per cent of the 5,770 supposedly underage migrants who tried to claim asylum in Austria last year, 4,489 individuals cannot be accounted for.
The figures became known following a question to the government by NEOS party MP Stephanie Krisper.
Of the 5,770 underage migrants, the majority, 3,401, are said to be Afghan nationals, followed by 1,345 Syrians and smaller numbers from Somalia, Pakistan, Egypt, and Bangladesh, Austrian newspaper Der Standard reports.
Lisa Wolfsegger of the NGO Asylum Coordination commented on the statistics, saying: “Imagine that in one year around 180 school classes simply disappeared without a trace. Where have all these children gone?”
While Wolfsegger noted that many of the underage migrants may have simply exploited the European Union’s open borders Schengen regime to travel to other European countries undetected, some may have fallen victim to human traffickers.
Number of Fake 'Child' Migrants in Britain More Than Triples in a Year https://t.co/KEmgzVV2At
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) December 30, 2021
The disappearance of underage asylum seekers is reportedly not being properly investigated by Austrian authorities as no governing authority has custody of them.
Austrian federal states only assume the obligation of custody after the minors are transferred to their care.
Only the city of Vienna makes an exception for minor asylum seekers in the asylum process — if the children are said to be under the age of 14.
The statistics are alarming in the wake of the wave of the arrival of millions of Ukrainian refugees to Europe, most of which are either women or children, with some of the latter unaccompanied.
Last month, European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson expressed concerns that Ukrainian refugee children could become targets of human traffickers, saying “There is a huge risk of trafficking in vulnerable children.”
Johansson noted that unaccompanied children, some of whom have been born to surrogate mothers in Ukraine, could be exploited or abducted.
Belgium: Up to 70 Per Cent of 'Child' Migrants Given Age Tests Turn Out ot Be Adults https://t.co/i6DYk1qdEt
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) December 11, 2021