Although the official statistics does not reflect the actual number of children missing in Lithuania, Prosecutor General Evaldas Pašilis notes an increasing the number of long-term missing cases that could be linked with human trafficking or sexual or criminal abuse.
Missing child
© Policija

"Five to eight years ago, we used to have two or three children annual when they indeed went missing, and the number grew to eight in 2015. It is difficult to interpret the statistics, we cannot talk about thousand, we have the Schengen area, we have refugees, foreigners, children often skip school. Therefore, the nearly few thousand cases I have mentioned are not the true numbers, they are indeed much smaller. But I agree that they are due to human trafficking," Pašilis told journalists on Wednesday.

Natalija Kurčinskaja, director of the Lithuanian Center for Support to Families of Missing People, says that children accounted for over 40 percent of all missing people in 2013, rising to 60 percent last year.

The Lithuanian Prosecutor General's Office is Wednesday starting an international training for police and prosecutors, social and education workers where a world-level expert group will discuss efforts of Lithuania and other countries in the region to find the missing children, prevent such cases and assistance provided to the families of missing children.

Caroline Humer, director of the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC), said the center was working to bring attention to the links of missing children to violence against children and sexual abuse, as well as to develop a "global response."

In her words, experts of the center will tell Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian representatives about possible measures in such cases, including risk assessment, analyze the reasons behind the problem and present a rapid response system that should help Lithuania track down children in danger.

BNS
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