When the Smile of the Child, the Greek member of Missing Children Europe, one day started asking around the camp for the family of Abdul, Kasim couldn’t believe his ears. He tried desperately with the help of a translator to explain his situation. He heard about how desperately his father had been searching for his family from Serbia. Kasim finally had some hope.
Missing Children Europe’s Serbian member Astra had first been contacted by a desperate Abdul who was beyond himself for the safety of his family. Astra then contacted The Smile of the Child, sharing the details and pictures of the case. Anxious about his family and their health issues, Abdul had informed a social worker in Serbia about the situation and the urgency to get reunited with them as soon as possible.
A few days later, the Smile of the Child had located the family and stepped in to offer the urgent medical care needed by the mother and the brother. They immediately connected the family with the authorities responsible for family reunification and the associated legal procedures. Meanwhile, in Serbia, Abdul was kept up to date by Astra. Three weeks after the first call to Astra, Abdul and his family were reunited.
The story of Kasim is a great example of how effective cross-border cooperation can save lives and better protect children in migration. Unfortunately, many cases of disappearances of children in migration do not have happy endings.
Children like Kasim, especially if unaccompanied, are at a greater risk of starvation, homelessness, exploitation, abuse, and being forced into criminal networks in Europe. With limited safe and legal ways to move across countries, children are left vulnerable to leaving protection and being exploited.
Through the Amina programme, Missing Children Europe and its partners, including the Smile of the Child in Greece, want to ensure that cases such as Kasim’s are systematically and efficiently resolved. The project will fundamentally improve the day-to-day efforts of professionals working on cross border cases of (unaccompanied) children at risk in Europe. Based on two fictional cases of migrant children, practical tools will be built to improve cross-border exchange of intelligence and follow up on transnational cases.