The little blonde girl, known only as Maria, who was removed from her alleged captors at a Roma encampment near Farsala, in central Greece, on Wednesday, remains in hospital. Last night, despite receiving hundreds of tips from around the world, Greek police were no closer to discovering her identity.
Next to nothing is known about her background, apart from the fact that she speaks Roma, not Greek. Anthropologists are due to examine her features in an attempt to discover where she was born. The child was first spotted by police during a search on the encampment. Officers' suspicions were raised as her blonde hair and blue eyes were an obvious mismatch with her supposed parents, a 39-year-old man and a 40-year-old woman. The couple were later arrested and charged with abducting a minor.
"We're always searching for lost children," Vasilis Halastis, the local police chief, said.
Yesterday, the family of Ben Needham, a 21-month-old British toddler who was abducted from his grandparents' home in Greece in 1991, said they hoped the case might offer new leads in his disappearance. Ben's sister Leighanna Needham said the case had "opened a can of worms" about the Greek police's original lack of willingness to search Roma camps for Ben.
Last year, the UN's Global Report into Human Trafficking reported that 27 per cent of all victims worldwide were children. The report said that more than half of known trafficking victims from within Greece between 2007 and 2010 were Romanian or Bulgarian citizens.