Exclusive: Sixty four children in Republic of Ireland “went missing” last year

    At least 64 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children went missing
    from the Health Services Executive’s care in the Republic of
    Ireland in 2004 – 51 of whom are still yet to be found, it
    emerged this week, writes Amy Taylor.

    Sixty-two of the children were cared for by the HSE’s east
    coast area, where 50 are still missing. Two disappeared from the
    southern area’s care, one of whom has yet to be found.

    Cabrini Gibbons, a legal officer at the Irish Refugee Council,
    accused the Garda of making less effort to raise public awareness
    when an unaccompanied asylum seeking child went missing than when
    an Irish child disappeared.

    She warned that some of the missing children could be working
    illegally in Ireland and that others could be at risk of sexual
    exploitation.

    A spokesperson for the Garda denied that missing Irish children
    were given preferential treatment, arguing that whether the child
    was an asylum seeker or Irish made no difference to the amount of
    publicity they would try to generate. However, he added that
    families of unaccompanied asylum seeker children were more likely
    not to want any publicity than Irish families.

    He insisted there was regular communication between the HSE
    areas and themselves once a case of a missing asylum-seeking child
    had been referred to them.

    For more details see 24 February issue of Community
    Care

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