AMBER Alert International Briefs — Issue 1 2023
Short news items about AMBER Alert & child protection issues—from around the world
Five mothers seeking ‘disappeared’ family members found murdered in Mexico
In the past two years, five volunteer activists in Mexico who have frantically searched for their missing “disappeared” (and presumed murdered) children have themselves been murdered. The news has gotten little attention. With more than 100,000 missing people in Mexico, experts say police often lack the time, expertise, or interest to look for the clandestine grave sites where narco-gangs frequently bury the victims. And so, volunteers—many of them relatives of the missing—do the searching themselves. Unfortunately, Maria Vázquez Ramírez, is the latest victim. She was killed while searching for her son, Osmar. In response, the Movement for our Disappeared in Mexico group, which supports the volunteer searchers, decried the act as “cowardly”—releasing a photo of Maria with her missing son with the words, “I didn’t live long enough to find you.” The group demands Mexico do more to search for all the missing, saying, “Violence against searchers shouldn’t be the norm.”
Research: Every day about 17 migrant children in Europe go missing for criminals’ intent
On November 20, 2022—World Children’s Day—Sakarya University’s Diaspora Research Center in Turkey reported that the number of cases involving missing migrant children in Europe is skyrocketing. According to their 2021 “Lost in Europe” report, more than 18,000 migrant children went missing in Europe between 2018 and 2020—an average of 17 refugee children each day. European authorities are banding together to try and stem this tide. The sad reality behind the high numbers of missing is that criminal organizations target refugee children in Europe and ensnare them in sex trafficking and forced begging.
Missing Children Europe reflects on 20 years’ success ‘but more work is needed’
The group Missing Children Europe was founded in 2001 to protect children from becoming missing. The group coordinates a vast network of missing children hotlines and cross-border family mediators throughout Europe. The group recently celebrated its 20th anniversary at a celebrity-studded event. But the event’s main goal was to highlight the fact that since the launch of its hotlines in 2007, operators across Europe have answered more than two million calls and supported more than 70,000 cases involving missing children. Those numbers were tempered by this equally stark reality: “The war on Ukraine and the expansion of the internet with both its opportunities and risks of harm for children are just two of the more recent challenges that need tackling,” Missing Children Europe said. The organization plans to continue better protecting and empowering at-risk children through research, advocacy, training, and education.