The Smile of the Child
Member: NGO Premium
Voluntary Children's Association
10, Zinonos Eleatou Street, GR-151 24 Maroussi, Athens, Greece
The Smile of the Child: 25th of May - International Missing Children’s Day
“The Smile of the Child”, for 15th consecutive year on the occasion of the 25th of May – International Missing Children’s Day and in the framework of the EU-funded project SAFE (Sustainable Alliance for Missing Children in Greece) organized a dedicated event and a one-day conference under the title: “Actions and Initiatives for preventing and tackling of the phenomenon of Missing Children”. The events were held at the Zappeion Megaron – Hall of Athens and were moderated by journalist Alexandra Kapelentzi.
At the opening of the meeting short addresses were extended by the Minister of Shipping and Island Policy, Mr. Panagiotis Kouroumplis, the State Secretary of the Ministry for Migration, Mr. Ioannis Balafas, the Secretary General of Coordination of the Ministry of Interior, Mr. Tzanetos Filippakos, the Chief of the Hellenic Police, Lieutenant General Mr. Konstantinos Tsouvalas, the Chief of the Hellenic Coast Guard, Vice-Admiral Mr. Stamatios Raptis, the Chief of the Hellenic Fire Brigade, Lieutenant General, Mr. Sotirios Terzoudis, the Lieutenant General of the Hellenic National Defense General Staff, Mr.Christos Poulianitis.
A short greeting was extended by Alessandro Ferranti, First Counselor of the Embassy of Italy in Greece in the framework of the Italian Chairmanship at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), as well as representatives of foreign missions.
The President of the BoD of “The Smile of the Child”, Mr. Costas Yannopoulos, presented the actions implemented by the specialized personnel of the Organization, the specialized volunteer rescuers and the certified dog teams, the national and international cooperation with the competent institutional and volunteer actors, as well as the technical and logistical means at the disposal of “The Smile of the Child” for every child victim of disappearance in Greece, regardless of ethnicity or religion.
Mr. Yannopoulos noted: “The Smile of the Child” is next to every missing child always in cooperation with the competent actors and always with respect to the official procedures for the search operation carried out by the Hellenic Police, by providing its services in order to trace the missing child and ensure its safe return to the family without losing precious time. Today, all of us together, prove in the best way that uniting our efforts and utilizing all powers along with expertise and the scientific personnel provides the best model on the international level and makes Greece distinct across Europe”. Putting emphasis to the issue of unaccompanied refugee and migrant children, who often run away from reception and protection areas, Mr. Yannopoulos added: “Amid the refugee crisis thousands of refugee and migrant children go missing on a daily basis with their cases going unnoticed and the search and rescue mechanisms remaining inactive. In cooperation with all the relevant actors and the authorities we have made an enormous effort with the aim to ensure that every refugee and migrant child will be treated on an equal basis and first and foremost as a child”.
In the framework of the meeting, the official statistical data of “The Smile of the Child” and the Hellenic Police were announced, as well as international data of the European Federation “Missing Children Europe” (MCE) and the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC), whose member of the Board of Directors is “The Smile of the Child”.
The statistical data of “The Smile of the Child”:
- In 2017, the “European Hotline for Missing Children 116000” received 9.379 calls.
- In 2017, the “European Hotline for Missing Children 116000” received 128 requests for the support of searches for missing children.
- Out of the total number of missing children, 113 children (90%) were found.
- The Amber Alert Hellas was activated for 10 children and the Search and Rescue Team “Thanasis Makris” was activated for 8 children.
During the first 4 months of 2018:
- The “European Hotline for Missing Children 116000” received 3.332 calls
- The “European Hotline for Missing Children 116000” received 59 requests for support to searches of missing children
- 49 children were traced (83%)
- For 8 cases the Amber Alert Hellas was activated and the Search and Rescue Team “Thanasis Makris” was also activated for 1 case
- For 1 case cross-border cooperation was required.
According to the official statistical data of the Hellenic Police, presented by the Head of the Division of Missing Persons and Deputy Police Director, Mr. Nikolaos Zervakakos:
● In 2017, 263 cases of missing children were handled, and 221 children were found, whereas from the 1st of January of 2018 until the 16th of May 2018, 117 cases of missing children were handled and 93 children have been found.
● With regards to child disappearances of refugee and migrant minors, 826 cases of refugee and migrant minors were handled, and 257 minors were found in 2017, whereas 335 cases of refugee and migrant minors were handled, and 125 minors were found from the 1st of January of 2018 until the 16th of May 2018.
According to data from “Missing Children Europe” (MCE):
- A child goes missing every 2 minutes
- The 116000 European Hotline for Missing Children operates in 32 European countries
- In 2017, the network of hotlines received 189.054 calls.
- 19% of the missing children reported to hotlines faced violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation.
- The number of runaways reported to hotlines has remained consistent at 57%, same as in 2016.
- On average, 46% of the children reported missing in 2017 were found within the year
- 1% of the children were found deceased
- 16% of the cases reported to the 116 000 hotlines were cross-border in nature.
Read the 2017 Figure and Trends report of Missing Children Europe here.
According to data from the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC):
● In Australia, an estimated 25,000 young people are reported missing every year.
● In Brazil, an estimated 40,000 children are reported missing every year.
● In Canada, there were 45,609 missing children reports in 2016.
● In India, an estimated 96,000 children go missing each year.
● In Germany, approximately 60,000 children were reported missing in 2016.
● In Russia, an estimated 45,000 children were reported missing in 2015.
● In Spain, an estimated 20,000 children are reported missing every year.
● In the United Kingdom, there were 60,045 missing persons under the age of 18.
● In 2016, there were more than 465,000 reports of missing children in the United States.
Read more on ICMEC’s website here.
During the meeting, the nationwide actions implemented in the framework of the SAFE project were presented (working meetings, needs surveys, seminars, awareness activities among the general public, the professionals and the educational community). The project is co-financed (50%) by the Programme Rights, Equality & Citizenship of the European Union.
The recommendations for the improvement in the management of missing children cases were drawn upon the longstanding experience and know-how of the participants and were handed over by the President of “The Smile of the Child” Mr. Costas Yannopoulos to the representatives of the political leadership of the country, as well as the representatives of the Hellenic Armed Forces, the Hellenic Police, the Hellenic Fire Brigade and the Hellenic Coast Guard.
A training seminar was held by the scientific personnel of “The Smile of the Child” with the participation of professionals active in the field (Police, Fire Brigade, Coast Guard, search and rescue teams). The seminar focused on the exchange of good practices and the management of cases of missing minors.
Young visitors from the private kindergarten “Lilipoupoli” had the opportunity to attend the presentation of a fairytale on the issue of child disappearances and pass their own unique message for the International Day.
In the outdoor facilities of the venue, the logistical and technical means at the disposal of missing children were presented, including among others the Mobile Lab of Information, Education and Technology “Odysseas”, Mobile Medical Units (ambulances), rescue vehicles, motorbikes, mobile generators, dog teams and the certified search and rescue dogs, vehicles from the Fire Brigade, the Hellenic Police and the Coast Guard.