A young girl may have been abducted, and authorities in Greece are desperately trying to locate her parents.
4-year-old, Maria, is now living with a charity group called "Smile of the Child", after she was found by a prosecutor, living in deplorable conditions. "It was bad living conditions, poor hygiene. The girl was found in a state of neglect, both physically and psychologically," he said. "We don't have any other information, if this girl was forced to work or to beg on streets."
Maria was taken in by the group and will be living in one of their group homes until her parents can be located. It was confirmed that there was no DNA match between Maria and the 39-year-old man and 40-year-old woman that she was living with. The concern is that she may have been abducted.
"This Roma family had 14 children in total, and they were registered with fake birth certificates, so now the police are trying to see whether these children also belong to this family or if there is something else behind this," Panagiotis Pardalis, spokesperson for "Smile of the Child" said.
Pardalis says that little Maria is thriving in her new living conditions. "She's improving increasingly," he said. "She's feeling happy, she's playing with toys, and she feels safe in the new environment." Although the group has many questions for Maria, they are not pushing her to answer them right now. Their main concern is making sure she is happy and healthy. "She doesn't say anything, and the priority right now is not to force the child to answer questions about the past, about what had happened," he said. "The priority now is to be calmed down."
There has been a tremendous amount of calls made in effort to find her family. "Right now we're having more than 8,000 calls from Greece and abroad," he said. "We have calls from United States, from Australia, Scandinavia, different countries, either with some information or support. What we do is we forward this information to the police and the police [are] taking over investigating".
If you have any information contact the European Hotline for Missing Children or the "Smile of the Child".
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