Cyprus Mail

Authorities working on amending procedures for unaccompanied minors

A group of unaccompanied minors during a recent protest (CNA)

Authorities are working on amending the procedures followed for unaccompanied minors as police said Friday there were 14 unaccompanied children who continue to be missing after leaving from reception centres and other facilities over the last four years.

To date, nine boys and five girls who arrived on the island unaccompanied seeking asylum have gone missing since 2019 according to police data. Most, nine, went missing from accommodations in Nicosia, another three from Larnaca and two from Limassol.

Police have said locating them will be extremely difficult due to the limited information they have on them.

The issue was discussed during a meeting with the police chief and senior officers, the asylum service and the deputy minister for social welfare where competent authorities recommended various actions that could be implemented to help find the missing unaccompanied minors.

“There is a protocol that was drawn up in 2019 with the steps that investigators follow in case of a missing person,” police officer Marina Christodoulou told the Cyprus Mail.

The protocol provides for additional actions when the disappearance concerns vulnerable people, which includes children.

Currently, when an underage asylum seeker goes missing, police receive the name and date of birth the minor has provided to the authorities upon arrival and a photo of them.

Among the proposals discussed in the meeting was the provision of additional information about the missing children like the biometric data such as weight and height.

In this way, authorities could also print posters in English, Greek and the mother tongue of the child who is missing asking for information. These posters could be put up at the immigration offices and other places where asylum seekers gather, it was suggested.
So far, information on missing children is uploaded on police’s website together with missing adults.

Police also requested to have a photo and the fingerprints of the minors as soon as they register to make sure they do not cross to the non-government-controlled areas.

News about the missing minors emerged earlier this month during a house interior committee where MPs were briefed.

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