116000 missing children phone number
The EU and member states have been urged to do more to raise
awareness of a telephone hotline for missing children.
The appeal comes ahead of international missing children's day on
Speaking at a news conference on Thursday, Sir Francis Jacobs,
president of Missing Children Europe, said lack of
awareness of the hotline (116000) could hamper efforts
to find children who have disappeared.
"It is essential to raise awareness of this phone number," he said.
The annual report of MCE, published on Thursday, shows that last
year, nearly 90,000 calls were received by the hotline
reporting alleged cases of missing children.
It said more girls than boys go missing and the majority are aged
13 and over.
One in eight ends up begging or stealing to survive while 25 per
cent of young runaways face "serious risk," according to
One quarter of missing children are victims of parental abduction
while "many other" children disappear after having
travelled across the EU alone and are likely to fall
into the hands of traffickers.
Jacobs said the organisation was "particularly concerned" about
lack of awareness of the number.
To promote the number, MCE released a video in all those European
countries where the hotline is available. It promotes
the number and will be shown on TV and cinemas
It also launched a new dedicated search engine where parents and
relatives of missing children can obtain information
about their loved ones.
Jacobs said the hotline had "proved its worth" in helping families
faced with a child disappearance.
More than 3000 cases of missing children were dealt with by the
hotline last year in the ten member states where it
"However, and despite the increasing number of cross border cases,
the hotline is not yet operational or known in all EU
countries," he said.
"It is essential for us to raise awareness as experience has shown
that the first hours following a child's disappearance
are of vital importance.
"With the number of cross border cases increasing, we need to roll
out the service across the EU.
"The hotline can have an even larger impact if more people become
aware of its existence and more countries commit to its
full implementation by all stakeholders involved at
Marco Pancini, a senior policy officer with Google, which has
helped launch the new search engine, said, "It is vital
that information for parents of missing children is
improved. Hopefully, this new search engine will do just
The appeal comes ahead of a major conference in Brussels on missing
children on 30 May.
Kate McCann, meanwhile, has hailed the initiative. She was among
guests at a London event this week to celebrate the
Europe-wide hotline and the relaunch of the MCE official
McCann, whose daughter Madeleine disappeared in Portugal in 2007
aged three, said the 116000 missing children phone
number was a "lifeline" for families like hers.
She said it was a "really positive day" and spoke of a shift in
attitudes among politicians towards the problem.
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