Sun campaign in support of International
Missing Children's Day
Gone ... six-year-old Aamina Khan, left,
was last seen by her father on August 20,
2011. She has been missing from her home in
Croydon, south London, ever since. She was
taken by her mother and is thought to be
abroad. Lee Boxell, right, went missing
after watching a football match on September
10, 1988. He said goodbye to a friend in
Sutton High Street, Surrey. No one has seen
him since. He was 13 at the time
TOMORROW is International Missing Children’s Day.
In other countries it is as important as Mother or
Father’s Day – and The Sun believes it should be
here too. In the UK it is estimated more than
140,000 children go missing every year. That is one
every three minutes.
The sad case of Madeleine McCann – snatched from a
holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal, on May
3, 2007 – has highlighted the plight of missing
Tomorrow a new free helpline and website – 116 000
and missingkids.co.uk– will be launched. Last night
Maddie’s mum Kate McCann was among those attending a
Downing Street reception to mark the launch.
Also present was Lady Catherine Meyer, founder of
Parents And Abducted Children Together (PACT), whose
two sons were abducted by their dad in 1994. She did
not see them again until 2003.
Here, as part of a Sun campaign, she explains why
readers should back International Missing Children’s
Day – while ANTONELLA LAZZERI reveals details of
some of those children currently missing.
EVERY three minutes a child disappears in the UK.
This is a horrifying statistic and everyone in this
country should be up in arms about it. But they’re
In fact most people in Britain have no idea how huge
the problem of missing children is.
In Europe and America people are much more aware of
it. International Missing Children’s Day is tomorrow
— how many people in Britain actually know it
I think for years in Britain we have seen missing
children as being a problem linked to teenage
runaways. But the truth is that every child is at
risk of becoming one of those statistics.
This staggering “one child every three minutes”
statistic was calculated by the Child Exploitation
and Online Protection centre (CEOP) using recently
It includes teenage runaways, parental abductions,
unexplained disappearances and kidnaps.
Paige Chivers ... missing from Blackpool,
Lancs, since August 26, 2007. She was 15
I know only too well the terrible trauma the
experienced by the parent of a child who
The pain, the anguish, the longing to hold your
child, to feel their arms around you again. Day
after day, hour after hour, you suffer.
When my boys were missing I felt so much pain I
thought I would die.
Osman Ali ... went missing from East Ham,
east London, on June 2, 2009. He was 16
It was like a never-ending grief, a never-ending
nightmare. I used to imagine them crying for me.
Christmas ceased to exist. Their birthdays were
terrible days to endure, not ones of happiness.
I had gone from being the proud mother of two
wonderful sons to having no one.
Eva Jarkova, 13 ... missing from Woolwich,
south east London, since March 3, 2012
As the years passed, the pain never diminished. In
fact it got worse, knowing they were growing up
without me in their lives.
The isolation was incredible. I was a mother who no
longer had her children. You feel you have nowhere
to turn. You don’t know where to go for help. I know
two parents who were in my position who ended up
committing suicide because they felt so hopeless.
The police are wonderful, but after the initial
contact, what can they really do for you?
Katrice Lee ... vanished from British Army
base in Schloss Neuhaus, Germany, in 1981.
She was 2
This was the reason I formed PACT. I first set it up
to offer support for people experiencing what I was
But over the last decade PACT has also been
campaigning for a better response to the problem of
We wanted to see a national centre for missing
children like there is in America.
Emmanuel Diaz ... aged 1, above, and Felipe,
2, taken from Brixton, S London, on Aug 19,
In the past, each individual police force dealt with
their cases and it was up to officers to find the
time to put the information about the child up on a
Now, through CEOP, it will all be co-ordinated and
information about the child will be kept up to date.
There will even be age progression pictures.
In the US there is much more public awareness of the
David Spencer, 13 ... went missing with a
pal in Chelmsley Wood, Birmingham, on Boxing
There are posters of missing children everywhere, TV
alerts, web alerts, stories in the media.
Everyone must remember the famous American milk
carton campaigns, where pictures of missing children
were featured on them.
I know from experience that these simple things can
lead to children being found.
Ruth Wilson, 16 ... vanished after taking a
cab to a pub in Boxhill, Surrey, on November
There was a case of a father who abducted his two
children in Britain. He took the Eurostar to France and
the first thing to confront him in the arrivals hall was
a poster with a picture of him.
He turned straight round and took the children back home
to their mother.
Getting a child’s picture and information out about them
Kevin Hicks ... said he was off to the shops
in Croydon, south London, in April 1986.
He'd be 42
I have met Kate and Gerry McCann several times and I
know they believe that.
I think they feel lucky in some ways that there has been
so much publicity about Madeleine.
They know only too well that other parents haven’t had
Jordan Ratcliffe ... missing since August
13, 2008. He was 16 and last seen in the
Parents have told me how they might have had initial
publicity and then it went away.
They are left feeling terrible, because to them it’s
like their child doesn’t matter to anyone any more.
The McCanns have always supported International Missing
Madeleine McCann ... snatched on a family
holiday in Portugal in May 2007. She’d be
PACT has arranged, thanks to the advertising company
Clear Channel, to have posters publicising the website
on bus shelters and billboards throughout the UK.
There will be 300 black cabs in London carrying appeals
for missing children and another 50 carrying the
Supermarkets will also be putting up posters of missing
kids in their store. We want people to become aware of
the website and to use it.
Robert Williams ... missing from Neath, West
Glamorgan, since March 28, 2002. He'd now be
There is research that shows that kids are very good at
recognising other children.
There was a case where a child saw a missing poster and
told his mother: “That boy is in my class.” It turned
out that child was right.
In Britain we have a huge problem — people need to
Mark Garvey ... went missing on March 27,
1987, after visiting his girlfriend in
Bootle, Merseyside. He would now be 40
It’s not just teenage runaways. At the moment PACT is
doing research for CEOP about how many children are
abducted each year.
It is ludicrous that we still do not know exactly how
many and under what circumstances children are abducted
each year in the UK.
I estimate it is around 500 a year. But that might not
even be the real figure — some parental abductions are
not even reported.
Elizabeth Ogungbayibi ... was five on
September 29, 2006. It is thought she was
taken by her father in Manchester
Peter Davies, chief executive of CEOP, insists
missingkids.co.uk will also offer sources of support to
children who are contemplating running away from home.
He said: “The recent court case of the Asian sex
grooming gang showed what can happen to vulnerable
“The new website is very ‘child-friendly’ and it will be
linked to Twitter and Facebook.