Sunday Independent


Jim Cusack

GARDAI fear that a number of young immigrant girls who have disappeared in recent months may have been abducted and forced into the sex industry by eastern European and African gangsters.

Senior detectives say they are satisfied that some foreign juveniles reported missing in Ireland have left voluntarily to rejoin their families after coming here and seekingasylum as "unaccompanied minors".

But there is now "serious concern" about a number of girls - the youngest is 12 - whose whereabouts remain a mystery months, and even up to two years, after going missing. In at least a number of cases, it is strongly suspected the girls disappeared against their will. Yet there has been almost no publicity about any of the cases.

The Garda missing persons' website for this year now contains more details of missing young immigrant girls than any other category. So far this year the Garda Press Office has issued details of six girls aged from 12 to 16 who have gone missing. These include:

Larisa Florea, aged 16, missing from her home in Lucan, Co Dublin, since August 4. Larisa who is originally from Romania is described as being 5ft 5ins, with long black hair and brown eyes.

Pansela Demitru, age 12, who is missing since Saturday, May 15. Pansela is also Romanian and came to Ireland in July, 2003. She is described as 5 feet tall, with long brown hair, brown eyes and a dark complexion. She was last seen in Tallaght village boarding a number 77A bus heading to the city centre.

Madalina Rosu, a 15-year-old Moldavian who has been missing from her flat on the North Circular Road, Dublin, since Wednesday, April 7, 2004. Madalina is described as 5ft 1in, of slight build with a pale complexion. She has long dark brown hair with a blonde streak to the rear, and blue eyes.

Erna Isayeva, a 15-year-old Russian missing from her flat in Palmerstown, Dublin, since last week.

Liberta Panina, a 13-year-old Lithuanian girl missing from her flat off the North Circular Road in Dublin since May 28.

Stephanie Doningos, a 12-year-old Nigerian girl missing from a house in Firhouse, Dublin, since July 5.

And, gardai in Co Kildare are still seeking public assistance to help trace the whereabouts of a 16-year-old Nigerian girl, Lisa Nwole, missing since October 12, 2002. She was last seen at her home at St Raphael's Manor, Celbridge.

According to senior Garda sources there are concerns that young, unaccompanied girls arriving in Ireland are being preyed on by criminals involved in the sex industry here and in other European countries.

The Garda's job in tracking the whereabouts of some of the missing girls is described as "almost impossible"because some have few or no relatives or friends here and contact with relatives in their home countries is very difficult.

The problem is made worse by the increasing trend of foreigners seeking asylum status in Ireland sending their children here unaccompanied.

Any boy or girl aged 17 or under is immediately entitled to the care and protection of the local Health Board when they arrive in Ireland.

The boards are compelled to provide them with accommodation and welfare entitlements.

In many cases, the unaccompanied minors live here for a while and then are joined by family members before they disappear.

Gardai say it becomesalmost impossible to track their whereabouts as theyoften leave the country after relatively short periods of time.

The main concern about the increasing number of missing young girls is that they have not gone voluntarily with their families but have been sucked into the European sex industry which is increasingly controlled by Eastern European mafias, and particularly the KosovanMafia which dominates the trade.

There is evidence of young foreign women being forced into the sex industry against their wills. A young Chinese woman who had lived for a while in Dublin and was believed to have been trying to flee the gang which was forcing her into the sex trade was pursued to Belfast andmurdered at the start of the summer.

An increasing number of young Eastern European women are appearing in Dublin as prostitutes andbeing exploited by Irish pimps who are paying the Kosovan Mafia.

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