– The number of children trafficked to EU countries by gangs – often for prostitution – is rising and the UK is a major destination, new data show, according to BBC News.
The European Commission says child trafficking is “one of the trends that is increasing most sharply”.
In 2013-2014 there were 15,846 registered victims of trafficking in the EU, at least 15% of them children.
Three-quarters of the victims were women, and 67% were trafficked for sex. Many other victims were not detected.
According to the official Commission figures, the UK registered 1,358 victims in 2013-2014, and the Netherlands registered the most – 1,561.
The Commission’s research identified ever younger children becoming victims of trafficking and growing numbers of girls from Nigeria being pressed into the sex trade.
The EU has also seen an increase in the number of unaccompanied child asylum-seekers at risk of criminal exploitation.
Children from poor Roma (Gypsy) communities are particularly vulnerable to trafficking, the Commission says, with the UK and France the main destination countries. Once there, they are exploited for sex, begging and petty crimes.
The Commission report says “there are solid grounds to believe that the actual numbers of victims of trafficking in the EU are substantially higher”.