THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Authorities dealing with Europe’s migrant crisis have lost track of about 10,000 unaccompanied children amid fears that organized crime gangs are beginning to exploit the vulnerable youngsters, a senior official at the European Union’s police agency said Monday.

Europol Chief of Staff Brian Donald said that the figure “would be a conservative estimate across all the countries that are dealing with this migrant crisis” over the past 12-18 months.

Donald said the estimate of 10,000 missing was based on reports by law enforcement authorities, governments and non-governmental organizations.

“They’re lost in the system,” he said. “I think our concern is that we know that there are people out there who will exploit minors. We know there are people who will take them and use them for their own purposes.”

Sweden, a popular destination for migrants, already is aware of the problem.

The Stockholm county government released a report last week citing Swedish Migration Agency statistics that said 1,900 of the 55,000 unaccompanied minors who have applied for asylum in Sweden in the past six years disappeared. The whereabouts of 1,250 of those is still unclear.

– The Associated Press


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