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Former Belgian Queen attends migration conference

Former Belgian Queen Paola attended the Lost in Migration conference on Wednesday 11 April. This, the second conference of its kind, took place in the Belgian capital of Brussels.

The 80-year-old royal paid a visit to the event as a member of the Patron’s Council of Missing Children Europe, helping the organisation in the fight against child disappearances and abductions and in protecting them from sexual exploitation and abuse.

Although it’s been almost five years since the abdication of Queen Paola’s husband, former King Albert II, from time to time she attends events in the name of the crown on behalf of her son, King Philippe. The former Queen participated in debates and took part in a meeting of the Patron’s Council chaired by the president of Missing Children Europe.

In the past two years, Europe has seen an increasing number of child migrants and, of child migrants disappearing. This year’s conference focused mainly on how to better protect and integrate migrant minors at a “local level”. Workshops were held to develop skills relating to the effective inclusiveness of migrant youth in Greece. It is estimated that 3010 unaccompanied children have arrived in Greece so far in 2018.

The Lost in Migration conference unites local, national and European authorities, experts, academics, researchers, and charities to talk about legal guardianship, regularisation of status, robust best interests assessments and other measures which help protect against child trafficking.

The organisations involved work on the key principles that a child on the move and affected by migration is first and foremost a child, all children have the right to life and survival, and no child is “illegal”.

Last year’s conference was held on the island of Malta, hosted by the Maltese President’s Foundation for the Well-being of Society. This year, Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, the President of Malta, attended the opening and the introductory speeches in Brussels.