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Police Reveal 300 African Boys "Vanished" in London in 2001

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Issue: 29 Section: International News Geography: Europe London, England Topics: police

May 22, 2005

Police Reveal 300 African Boys "Vanished" in London in 2001

A recent police investigation into the mysterious death of a young boy in London has revealed that 300 black African boys, aged four to seven, went missing in the city between July and September 2001.

In order to identify the boy whose torso was found in the River Thames, police asked every education authority within the London metropolitan to report how many young black boys had gone missing during the three month period.

"It is a large figure - far more than we anticipated when we started this line of inquiry," Detective Chief Inspector Will O'Reilly explained to the BBC.

Of the children found missing, 298 originated from Africa and two others from the Caribbean. Experts suggest that these children are brought to the UK for purposes of fraud, prostitution, and child labour and are often victims of physical and sexual abuse.

Police authorities fear that this case represents just a small fraction of those currently missing, estimating that thousands 'vanish' annually. CNN reports that despite the large numbers, there is still nothing to suggest that they have been murdered. A lack of immigration records does make it impossible to trace their whereabouts.

Child welfare charities and activists are reacting strongly to this discovery, claiming that the UK government is doing virtually nothing to address this problem.

"It's scandalous. I think the government is hiding from this issue. We need an effective working relationship between schools, social services, the police and immigration. That simply isn't happening," remarks Hilton Dawson, of the group Africans Unite Against Child Abuse.

CNN: 300 African boys vanish in London

The Scotsman: Missing African Boys 'May Highlight New Trafficking Trend'

The Guardian: Missing: the mystery of 300 boys who have disappeared from school

BBC: Hundreds of children 'vanishing'

The Times: Charities urge UK to sign anti-trafficking pact

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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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