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On the Commemoration of the International Day of Missing Children

 

On the 25th of May, Lithuania marks the International Day of Missing Children.

Commemorating this day aims not only to sympathise with those whose children have gone missing, but also to promote the prevention of this phenomenon.

 

We invite you to visit the sculpture “Mommy…!” next to the Lithuanian and Children’s Youth Centre, to tie ribbons on the branches of the trees with your children, and to take time to talk to your children about the difficulties they are facing, to listen to what they have to say, and to inform them about the dangers of being away from home. 

 

The day was chosen  because of a story that shocked the United States when, on 25 May 1979, six-year-old Ethan Patz disappeared  without a trace on his way to school at a bus stop just a couple of blocks from his home. On the initiative of the  Missing Persons Families Support Centre, the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania added this day to the list of  commemorative days in 2006. The European Union has a single 116 000 hotline for reporting missing children  around the clock. This hotline is administered in Lithuania by the Missing Persons Families Support Centre  (hereinafter – the Centre), which is a member of the international organisations Amber Alert Europe and the  International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (USA). In 2018, the Centre, together with the US Embassy,  the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Lithuania, the Lithuanian Police Department and Facebook, launched  Amber Alert Facebook, the first emergency child tracing system in Lithuania. 

Child disappearance is a real, dynamic and growing problem both in Lithuania and across Europe. Around 250 000 children go missing in Europe every year. According to the Missing Persons Register, there will be 2,251 cases in Lithuania in 2020 and 1,575 cases in 2021. In the first quarter of 2022, 427 cases. Missing Persons Families  Support Centre, in cooperation with the General Emergency Centre (112), answered 196 calls on hotline 116 000 in  2020, compared to 190 calls in 2021. On 24th of February in 2022 people are fleeing the country in large numbers  since Russia started the war in Ukraine. According to the administrators of the 116 000 hotline in Ukraine, the NGO Magnolia, 2 100 children have disappeared since the war began. And this number is growing every day. 

There are different reasons for the disappearance of children. Children who are missing, unsupervised or constantly running away from home can become an easy prey for criminals. They are at risk of becoming victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation. 

More information 

Missing Persons Families Support Centre 

Contact for enquiries:  Arūnė Bernatonytė [email protected] or +370 670 52725. 

Prevention video “Every minute is precious” (1:00 min):