Ireland South Fine Gael MEP, Deirdre Clune has supported a budget amendment in the European Parliament that increases funding for missing children hotlines across Europe. Commenting on the increase in funding Clune says that the hotlines are still underfunded and that we are not doing enough to help vulnerable children.
“250,000 children go missing every year in the EU – that’s one every 2 minutes! Missing children include a number of categories including parental abductions, unaccompanied migrant minors, criminal abductions and children who have ran away from home. Somewhere between 2% and 5% of missing children are third party criminal abductions.
“According to the Missing Children Europe Annual report 2013, runaways make up 50% of missing children cases reported on the 116 000 hotlines. The migrant crisis must be contributing to a sharp increase in the number of unaccompanied migrant children entering European territory which is a considerable challenge that we must meet head on.
“Under EU telecom rules agreed in 2009, the 116 000 number is reserved in all EU member states for a missing children hotline and is now operational in 27 EU countries. The hotlines work in cooperation with law enforcement, social services, central authorities, social services, emergency services and other relevant stakeholders to coordinate a pan European approach to finding missing children. They are an essential tool in tracing our missing children and it is imperative that we continue to ensure they are funded properly.
“Calls are on the increase with 268,309 calls and 6,119 cases reported in 2014. 25% of the cases were cross-border in nature. In a survey sent to 116 000 hotlines, 56% of the hotlines said that EU funding is vital to their continued operation.
“In Ireland, the ISPCC has been allocated responsibility for the operation of the 116 000 hotline number. This is about ensuring that our children are safe and putting all possible measures in place to ensure that Europe is acting together in a coordinated fashion when it comes to tracing missing children. Travel between European countries is easy now and we need to ensure that we maximise cooperation to act to find missing children within the first 24 hour critical period.”