Süleyman Kahraman, governor of Turkey's eastern Erzincan province, held a press conference on Monday regarding the incident that 21 Afghan children placed into an infant shelter in the province went missing.
The incident came into light as lawyers from the Izmir Bar Association, the western province where the children were dispatched from due to inadequate facilities amid the ongoing refugee crisis, questioned the whereabouts of the children. Soon after reports emerged in Turkish news outlets the children may have been victims of organized crime or even have joined the ISIS terror organization.
Governor Kahraman stated that the children, whose ages ranging from 15 to 20, have already left their country due to terror and it is not likely for them to join ISIS. He said that it has been detected from social media circles that three of them are currently in Athens, one is in Germany and one is in Istanbul. He added necessary orders were given to security forces to locate the children.
The children, who were dispatched from the western province of Izmir, were placed into the Child Support Center of Ministry of Family and Social Policies in Erzincan on July 23. Four children reportedly left the center on July 25 and 17 children on July 29.
Kahraman said that these children are described as "unaccompanied minors" in international law although their ages are above to be described as children.
"They were willing to go to European countries and work there to support their families. We carried social and sportive activities for the children but it was impossible to keep them in here," Kahraman said.
Governor Kahraman also responded to the accusations of negligence.
"It is not like we allowed them to leave. The center they were placed in is not highly secured. There are normal security measures. It is not possible to be a highly secured jail or correction center. They left it overnight. It is not possible to force them to be here, this is a social adaptation center. Maybe we can increase the number of security guards, or children can go outside accompanied by teachers. These are the only precautions we can take," Kahraman said.
Apart from 21 children, four other children who went missing earlier were found and a person who helped them was charged with migrant trafficking and is currently in jail, Kahraman added.
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