Missing people in Europe? Training and coordination is needed

The Final Conference of the Erasmus + funded project “LOST – Learning Opportunities, inStruments and Investigation Techniques to fight the growing phenomenon of missing people in Europe” took place on 16 September at the European Committee of Regions (Brussels).

Lucie Susova (SOLIDAR) opened the event by recalling the audience “our long-standing support for VET as the first choice and the worrying lack of reference to VET in the European Commissioners designate’s mission letters. One more reason to make our voice heard!”. 

The conference introduced the final results of the LOST project. This European innovative in dealing with the area of action of the response on disappearances, where different kind of professionals working on cases of missing people has benefited from receiving specific training and support by technical operators and Vocational Education and Training trainers. 

The project partner Barbara Coccetta (Associazione OMNIS) made an introduction to the transnational training programme LOST. She stressed the lack of harmonization of the searching skills and the difference between cultural environments among countries. In fact, this has been one of the main difficulties to develop the LOST project. However, after the 2 years of research the LOST results would be easily transferable and shareable by other stakeholders who would be interested, said Coccetta. 

“There are not EU figures of how many missing people are in Europe”, started Niels Christian Vestergaard (SOSU AARHUS) in charge of the policy recommendations of the LOST project. This brings up the necessity to create a platform where it can be possible to share data, share ideas and prevention and techniques of search. The LOST project has been working in this direction, but an EU coordination action is needed. 

Sadly, the issue of missing people and children in particular (whereas these people are potential victims of human trafficking), is increasing in Europe: in 2016, according to the EU’s criminal intelligence agency, at least 10,000 unaccompanied child refugees have disappeared after arriving in Europe. National statistical data of Police and Ministries of European Member States also reveal a high percentage of people never found.

The role of media when it comes to missing people plays an important role as Charitini-Maria Skoulidi and Panagiotis G. Anastassopoulos (p-consulting.gr) explained. Though the coordination with local authorities and media differs from one country to another. Therefore, further training is needed on this as well. 

The project is looking at the particular case of missing children in the migration routes. Hence, Renato Cursi (Don Bosco International) presented their actions to avoid that situation from the origin. Don Bosco Network is developing several programmes to support minors in risk locally. Additionally, they have set up programmes to assist unaccompanied migrants who reach Italy giving them an opportunity to enrol in educational programmes. 

The standard procedures for tracking missing people, as Manal Al Chaarani ( International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) explained are really complicated and the data protection must prevail.

The LOST partners took note from all the fr inputs through the debate and they are already working to improve the LOST Training. 


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