The parents of four-year-old Madeleine McCann have vowed not to give up hope as the world marks International Missing Children’s Day. The British toddler will be the focus of many events, three weeks after she vanished from a hotel room in Portugal, while with her family on holiday. In a message reported in Portuguese newspapers, Gerry and Kate McCann identified with parents of missing children in all countries.
In Britain, it is estimated that at least 70,000 children disappear each year. While in France, 40,000 vanish annually. The European Union provides funding through community programmes to protect the rights of children, especially in cases of sexual exploitation and violence.
European Commission Vice President, Franco Frattini said: “International co-operation is absolutely necessary for example to eradicate crimes on internet, child pornography, exploitation of children.”
Gathering information in the first hours after the disappearance is crucial. The European Commission is dedicating an telephone number to cases of missing children, so parents and witnesses can dial in an emergency wherever they are.