The EU must pressure foreign governments to punish parents who send their children on the perilous and illegal journey to Europe or face financial consequences. All too many parents in poverty stricken countries readily send their under-age children on the dangerous trek to Europe knowing that, if they make it, Europeans will care for them. These parents hope their children get papers and that they can join them in Europe later under Europe’s liberal family regroupment rules and that one day they get work and send money home. Europeans are alarmed that about 10,000 of these children are unaccounted for.
The practice is an old one but, with the new waves of migration, more children are now encouraged by their parents to leave and risk falling into the hands of people who will exploit them. Europol, the EU’s police agency, says that migrant smugglers are showing up on the agency’s human trafficking data base which indicates that some children are exposed to exploitation.
The EuroPol spokesman, Jan Op Gen Oorth, said that even though some of the 10,000 missing may have been passed onto family members, “EuroPol’s concern is we do not know where they are or what they are doing or who they are with.”
So, Europeans are concerned while the parents and the countries of origin do not seem to care. The International Organization of Migration thinks “it’s shocking that we learn there are so many unaccompanied minors exposed to trafficking and other dangers.” But the IOM’s spokesman, Leonard Doyle, in stead of calling on governments to punish parents and stop the hemorrhage, insisted on “the need to protect vulnerable young people who find themselves at loose without friends in Europe and therefore vulnerable without proper mentoring and leadership.” For the IOM, other people’s children is first and foremost a European tax-payers problem.
How far will parents go in these countries to profit from Europe’s goodwill? One French NGO specialized in getting African orphans adopted in France, found out the hard way. In October 2007, Chadian police arrested all six members of the NGO, l’Arche de Zoé, and charged them with abducting 103 children they thought were orphans. The children’s parents had given the kids saying they were alone and without family, hoping to see them adopted in France where they would get papers, eventually bring family members and, one day, send money home.
But the plot thickens. After the arrests, the parents then claimed the NGO had taken the children; that they did not know where they were and only recognized them on TV. Naturally, these upright Chadian parents, supported by their government, saw fit to demand financial compensation for the ordeal. The six NGO members, after sentencing to hard labor in Chad and then pardoned by President Idriss Deby, were eventually sent back to Paris, tried and sentenced to shorter prison terms. A total fiasco one French politician called “compassionate neocolonialism.”
These kids are not Europe’s problem. Until the EU makes governments put an end to the practice, they will find themselves with more and more of other people’s offspring and the countries of origin have a lot of offspring to offer.
It is urgent Europe make the national governments of the countries of origin punish the parents to stop the kids from coming. It is also urgent that these kids be sent back home immediately, with guarantees of schooling and housing, in which the EU could assist. It is many fold more than just the 10,000 who went missing and they are a big problem. Children and adolescents need special rules at this age so they can function in society later on. Without this education, like child soldiers, they are walking time-bombs. If they fall into the hands of organized crime, they could well prove to be a nuclear holocaust in just a few years.