May 25th International Missing Children's Day

22 May 2024


Athens, May 22 2024

May 25th International Missing Children's Day

The National Centre for Missing Children and Adults of “The Smile of the Child” presented New Initiatives, Services and Good Practices

We recognized the International Missing Children's Day on May 25th by presenting our new initiatives, services and good practices for missing children and adults at the Zappeio Megaron in Athens:

  • Successfully promoted a new Law for the prevention and actions needed in responding to missing children Introduced a Missing Alert Protocol
  • Introduced Amber Alert Hellas SMS
  • Announced our collaboration with the National Foundation for the Deaf

1st Quarter of 2024 Statistics:

  • 2 children went missing every 3 days
  • 1 adult went missing every 2 days
  • Received 32 calls daily related to missing children and adults

In the presence of the Minister of Citizen Protection, Members of Parliament, representatives of Hellenic National Defense General Staff, Hellenic Police, Hellenic Coast Guard and Hellenic Fire Brigade, Embassies, the President of the National Emergency Aid Center (EKAB) , Municipal Police from all over Greece, as well as Mr. Alain Remue, an internationally renowned expert on issues of disappearances of the Belgian Federal Police and trainer of Interpol, the National Center for Missing Children and Adults operated by "The Smile of the Child", organized for the 20th consecutive year an event at Zappeion Megaron in Athens.

This event aimed to:

  • highlight the collaborations that “The Smile of the Child” has developed in the field of missing with the relevant Ministry and all the institutional and voluntary bodies of our country
  • present the unique, internationally, services that are made available to the Greek society
  • announce 4 new initiatives of the Organization, which will play a crucial role in the successful search for every missing child or adult in danger.

The event was coordinated by the journalist Ms. Alexandra Kapeletzi.

Entering the forecourt of Zappeion, participants were given the opportunity to walk through and see the spectrum of all available logistical means of “Smile” and co-responsible public and volunteer bodies, namely, the 1st Mobile Lab of Information, Education and Technology “Odysseus”, “IPPOKRATIS” and “ASCLIPIOS” Mobile Polyclinics, Mobile Command Center, and the Mobile Medical Units for free preventive examinations Dental/ Pediatric/ Ophthalmological/ENT. Additionally, ambulances, rescue vehicles, personnel transport vehicles, mobile communications, K9 Unit Canine Group Mobile Unit, bicycles, ATV vehicles and emergency operations units were there for the viewing. Many of the volunteer operators of the Search and Rescue team “Thanasis Makris”, volunteer rescuers, canine groups as well as vehicles, means and logistical equipment from the Hellenic National Defense General
Staff, and the Hellenic Army General Staff, Hellenic Navy, Hellenic Air Force branches, the Greek Armed Forces, the Hellenic Coast Guard, the Hellenic Fire Service, the National Centre of Direct Help and the Municipal Police attended this remarkable event.

You can watch the entire event at:

Mr. Costas Yannopoulos, the President of the BoD of “The Smile of the Child”, welcomed and thanked all attendees for the important institutional role they assume in the protection of children, and stated “It all started 28 years ago when a small child, my son, left this legacy to me and to all of you who have joined this cause. The ‘Smile’ serves the institutions of the state, as we believe the role of a voluntary organization is to complement the state services - not to replace them, and the ‘Smile’ does it in the best possible way. We want you to use us, as we have years of best practices. Make the most of us!”. Mr. Yannopoulos outlined well-known cases in Greece and abroad, and emphasized the Organization’s new services and initiatives:

  • Missing Alert Protocol: A protocol that was created by the Organization based on the Herbert Protocol of England
  • Amber Alert Hellas SMS: through the use of an Android or IOS mobile phone, citizens can now activate an Amber Alert SMS service in Greece.
  • Proposed adoption of a new Law for the prevention and actions needed in responding to missing children, establishing an action framework for all public, private or voluntary agencies to adapt into their programs. This new law will assist in preventing the phenomenon and adopting specific protocols for reducing mistaken actions to a minimum.
  • Collaboration of the Organization with the National Foundation for the Deaf. These citizens can now access all the services provided through the Four Help and Support Lines operated by “The Smile of the Child”.

Mr. Michalis Chrysochoidis, Minister of Citizen Protection, stated: “I would like to congratulate all those who unconditionally serve, maintain and strengthen civil society. ‘The Smile of the Child’ is an outstanding example of this”.

Mrs. Marina Stefou, Secretary General for Demography and Housing Policy, Ministry of Social Cohesion and Family Affairs, made an address on behalf of the Prime Minister. She stated: “This meeting is an opportunity to raise awareness in society for all children who have been abducted or have gone missing in Greece and abroad, emphasizing the importance of cooperation and coordination of actions to deal with the issue at all levels. At the same time, we send a global message of hope and solidarity to the parents of the missing children and remind them that the State is always by their side, making constant and tireless efforts to return the children to their families”.

“The Smile of the Child” awarded the “Andreas Yannopoulos” Award to Mr. Alain Remue, 1st Commissioner - Commanding Officer Missing Persons Unit - Belgian Federal Police, to thank him for his contributions, knowledge and procedures used on an international level. Mr. Remue was moved and warmly thanked, in Greek, “Smile” and participants for the honor. He pointed out: “At Interpol we have a motto ‘we must think globally and act locally’. This means "The Smile of the Child" must act not only in Greece, but also adopt and adapt into Greek society every international initiative and good practices in an effort to support all individuals and their families in need.

The “Andreas Yannopoulos” Award was also given to the SupportCY Team of the Bank of Cyprus for its solidarity and mutual support with the Organization in cases of natural disasters such as fires, floods, etc., during the last years of collaboration. The director of Corporate Social Responsibility of Bank of Cyprus, Mrs. Elli Ioannidou, happily received the award and said “Thank you very much, once again, for the honor of receiving the ‘Andreas Yannopoulos’ Award and I assure you that the Bank of Cyprus, and our volunteers will always be at the side of the ‘Smile’ whenever needed, just as you are for us.”

The Social Worker and Coordinator of the Organization's National Center for Missing Children and Adults, Mrs. Irini Rizopoulou, presented statistics on missing children and adults in Greece and internationally. She highlighted the basic profile of a missing child in Greece as being a teenage girl, and of Greek origin. She emphasized: “The primary goal in a disappearance is to immediately find the missing person, and bring them to safety. It's important to remember that a child who is away from the people who care for him/her is a child at risk”.

On behalf of Hellenic Police, the Police Director and Head of the Sub-Directorate for Missing Persons, Archives and Identities, Mr. Nikolaos Sgouros, discussed how the Hellenic Police collaborates with the Organization “In order to deal effectively with the phenomenon of missing children, a collaborative effort involving many actors takes place, and the ‘Smile’ functions as the catalyst in these actions”.

The Coordinator of International Cooperation of “The Smile of the Child”, Mrs. Piji Protopsaltis, presented the Organization's important international collaborations for the prevention and management of cases of missing children and adults. She spoke of the European Federation for Missing Children Europe (MCE), of which “Smile’’ is a founding member, the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC), the Global Missing Children’s Network, Meta et al. She emphasized that “The goal is to exchange good practices, improve services, and develop cross-border cooperation between states.” The audience had the opportunity to watch the taped video messages from “Smile’s” partners (NCMEC, ICMEC, MCE, Meta, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and Australian Police).

Watch the taped messages here:

Lastly, “The Smile of the Child” awarded an honorary plaque to the Football Team “Ellines Epilektoi” for their continual support and humanitarian initiatives. Mr. Argyris Kostakis, the team leader and journalist, dedicated the plaque to Andreas Yannopoulos, expressing the heartfelt honor and thank you from his team.  

Relevant Statistics from “The Smile of the Child”:


  • 8.354 calls to the European Hotline for Missing Children 116000
  • Μissing and search for 186 children
  • Missing and search for 160 adults
  • Prevention interventions provided to 1.300 students, 98 parents and guardians, 704 teachers

1st Quarter of 2024:

  • 3,814 calls to the European Hotline for Missing Children 116000
  • Missing and search for 81 children
  • Missing and search for 50 adults
  • Prevention interventions provided to 511 students, 432 parents and guardians, 51 teachers

Hellenic Police statistics 2022

  • 37 Amber Alerts  for 39 children missing - 17 girls and 22 boys


  • 274 Missing – 175 girls and 99 boys
  • 256 were Found – 166 girls and 90 boys
  • 18 Still Missing – 9 girls and 9 boys

Statistics for 2023 of the European Federation for Missing Children (Missing Children Europe):

  • 45.154 calls
  • 1.886 messages via Chat applications
  • 6.719 emails
  • 7.262 cases of missing children
  • 106 cases of missing children resulting from online grooming and exploitation
  • 349 cross-border cases of missing children

Statistics from the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC):

  • 8 million children are estimated to go missing internationally every year
  • 250.000 children – 1 child every 2 minutes goes missing every year in Europe
  • 1 child goes missing every 8 minutes in India
  • 70.000 children go missing every year in China
  • 2.300 children go missing every day in the US.

On the occasion of this international day a trailer of the new short film entitled “Nefeli is missing”, was presented by the Organization in collaboration with PSDM in Athens. The film shows how a 16-year-old girl runs away because of the bullying she receives, accompanied by loneliness and the resulting traumatic experiences she incurs from these situations. Watch the trailer here:

This event was translated into Greek Sign Language by the interpreters, Mrs. Vasiliki Alexandri, Mrs. Androniki Xanthopoulou and Mrs. Rozalia Fouda, from the National Foundation for the Deaf, following their partnership agreement with “The Smile of the Child”.

The meeting was completed by a video from the children of the “Lillipouli” kindergarten, where they sent their own video message for the International Missing Children's Day.

“The Smile of the Child” warmly thanks everyone who helped make this event happen, the supporters, and the volunteers of the event for their valuable help and their undivided trust.

A special “Thank you” to the Sponsor of the Event, long-time partner and friend of the Organization, Euroins Greece, which remains dedicated to the important work of “Smile”.

Event sponsor: EUROINS


Photographic material from the Meeting:


For More information:

"The Smile of the Child"

Tel. 11040