3,249 Turkish children lost, many in Far East

3,249 Turkish children lost, many in Far East

Fırat Alkaç / Eyüp Serbest ISTANBUL / Hürriyet
3,249 Turkish children lost, many in Far East

AA Photo

Many of Turkey’s 3,249 missing children are now in the Far East, trapped as sex workers, the Lost Children Platform founder Yahya Durmaz said in an interview with daily Hürriyet.

Durmaz, a businessman, founded the platform to find Turkey’s missing children, including around 2,800 girls, and reached out to thousands of volunteers in seven countries. After contacting the parents and relatives of the missing children, Durmaz followed their trails in several countries, including Syria and Afghanistan, as well as Europe and the Far East, where many children are trapped by human traffickers.

“I’ve seen children who were sold or rented by their parents. There are Turkish children who were brought abroad, trapped in prostitution and drug use. We want to unite these children with their families,” Durmaz said.

Some children are being used as experimental subjects, while some others sold as prostitutes or hired as gang members, according to Durmaz. Claiming that the western Turkish city of Sakarya is an international center for human trafficking, Durmaz added:

“The children who were smuggled from the Middle East or refugee children all pass through Sakarya. Some use human trafficking routes through the Aegean Sea, others the Thrace region [neighboring Bulgaria and Greece] and some others the Black Sea.”

Durmaz is thankful to tribal leaders in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq for their support in finding missing children in Germany, France, the Netherlands and Belgium. “All mothers should look after their children and their partners well,” Durmaz said.

Some 14,412 children have gone missing in the past five years alone in Turkey, the Gendarmerie General Command announced last month, noting many children are kidnapped for their organs, labor or fighting potential.