• Minors may be exploited by criminal, agency's chief says
  • Governments, police should worry, crime-fighting agency says

More than 10,000 child refugees have disappeared after arriving in Europe, according to crime-fighting agency Europol, as the region faces its worst migrant crisis since World War II.

QuickTake Europe's Refugee Crisis

“This is something European police services and governments should be worried about,” Europol Chief Rob Wainwright said in an interview Saturday with French newspaper Le Figaro. “Not all are exploited for criminal purposes -- illegal labor or sexual slavery. Some have left shelters to reunite with their families, but we have no proof of that.”

Of the 1.2 million refugees who arrived in the European Union last year, a quarter were minors, and 85,000 were unaccompanied by an adult, Wainwright said. More than 135,000 asylum seekers have made their way to Europe this year, compared with about 376,000 in October and November, according to UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency.

European leaders are struggling to develop an alternative for the patchwork of unilateral border controls imposed by national governments to stem the flow of migrants fleeing war and poverty. The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, proposed on Friday to lift internal border border checks and restore passport-free travel by the end of the year.

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