In marking the
International Missing Children’s Day, European Commission
Vice-Presidents Viviane Reding, responsible for EU Justice, Fundamental
Rights and Citizenship, and Neelie Kroes, responsible for the Digital
Agenda, urged EU Member States to step up their efforts to introduce
child alert systems and to make the missing children’s hotline 116 000
operational as soon as possible.
The day was celebrated here in Portugal with news that police
here reported a 100 percent recovery rate of children reported missing
in the country during the course of 2009.
“Every missing child is a tragedy, and we must do everything we can to
prevent such tragedies. The Commission created the European 116 000
hotline to report missing children and offer guidance and support to
their families, everywhere in Europe. I regret to see that the hotline
works only in 11 Member States,” said Vice-President Viviane Reding,
Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship.
“It is hard to come to terms with the fact that measures that could help
are not yet fully operational across the Union. It would be a double
tragedy to imagine a missing child trying to call the 116 000 hotline
only to hear an answering machine playing a pre-recorded message
announcing that the service will be operational in 2012. I call on
Member States to put every effort into changing this.”
Vice-President Neelie Kroes, responsible for the Digital Agenda, added,
“Member States must respect their legal obligations to not only put in
place the missing children hotline number as a matter of urgency but
also to ensure that the public is well-informed about it.”
The EU has already put in place rules to ensure that the 116 000 number
is set aside everywhere in the EU for hotlines to report missing
These hotlines are currently operational in 11 Member States (Belgium,
Denmark, Greece, France, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland,
Portugal, Romania and Slovakia).
The Commission also supports the creation of cross-border child alert
systems that help in the search of abducted children by enabling the
public to provide the relevant authorities with real-time information.
Alert systems exist in eight Member States (the Netherlands, Portugal,
France, Luxembourg, Belgium, Greece, Germany and the UK).
Speaking on International Missing Children’s Day, the mother of missing
spoke of the grief endured by parents of
children who have disappeared.
“As a parent of a missing child, every day is difficult in some way. We
would like to ask everybody to spare a thought and a prayer for all
missing children. If you can help in any way, either through practical
means, by improving awareness in some way or by donating to one of the
organisations we would be very grateful”, said
adding: “Just because a problem cannot be seen, doesn’t mean it’s not
there or can be forgotten.
“Missing children need our help. We can all make a difference.”