Hundreds of refugee youths disappear every year
As police search for two young refugees who were roughly treated by security guards in Malmö last Friday, Swedish media report that 825 unaccompanied minors have disappeared in the past five years.
Hundreds of refugee children disappear in Sweden every year, Swedish Television News reported Friday. Last year, a record 374 went missing, according to the Swedish Migration Board, and only 59 have been tracked down.
The majority of the unaccompanied minors who disappeare are between 15 and 17 years old, but since 2012 as many as 90 children under the age of 12 have also gone missing.
Katia Wagner, a freelance journalist and co-author of the book De Förlorade Barnen (The Lost Children) told Swedish Radio that any number of things can happen to these lost children.
"When we tracked some of those who had disappeared we found some in human trafficking situations, in prostitution, and in very dangerous environments on the street," said Wagner.
Wagner and her co-author met one young person who was forced to sell drugs and who had an adult who was guarding him. Wagner said that there are places in some cities where adults who wanted to find young people and use them could do so.
"They are very confused and alone, these children. So if someone offers them something or uses force, they don't have so many options," Wagner said.
The boys from the Malmö incident, who are nine and 12 years old, were originally on the run when they were caught by security guards at Malmö's central train station. They had been caught without a ticket and were treated roughly by the guards while waiting for the police to show up. One guard sat on the youngest boy, with the boy's head hitting the floor several times during the fracas.
The boys were then taken back to the care home where they were staying, but have since escaped again. Police said at first that they were not looking for the boys, but later said that the boys may have a relative somewhere in the country and that they are now trying to locate them.
The two young boys are thought to be unaccompanied refugees, and apparently do not speak Swedish.