Issue of almost 20% of unaccompanied child migrants from albania going missing after being taken in by kent county council this year has been highlighted by immigration minister robert jenrick. the local authority took in 197 albanian children up to 31 october, but 39 of them have gone missing. ecpat uk, an organisation that campaigns to protect children from exploitation, said the figures were very concerning and that the children could be exploited, forced to do construction work, or forced into crime.
Figures were obtained by the bbc via a freedom of information request and revealed that more than 12,000 migrants from albania had reached the uk by boat so far this year, an increase of almost 4,000% compared with 2021. kent county council said it had seen a “significant increase” in the number of unaccompanied albanian children referred to its services.
County council has used both established safeguarding protocols and initiated multi-agency strategies to minimise the risks for these children as much as possible. research and experience evidences that some nationalities are particularly vulnerable and can go missing from local authority care very quickly. the council said that, as of 7 november, 39 had a “current missing episode or, for those over the age of 18, an ended missing episode, where the young person’s location is recorded as remaining unknown”. kent county council continues to take a proactive role in safeguarding all unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in its care.