Supervision sounds alarm: a troubled situation for children in asylum seeker centers

This is the conclusion reached by the Danish Justice and Security Authority and the Danish Health and Youth Authority. They urge the Secretary of State for Asylum Eric van der Burg to intervene in a burning letter. It is still unknown whether the additional measures he announced last Friday will help.

‘In a state of crisis’

Due to the great pressure on the front desk, the staff are not able to provide adequate reception and guidance than they should. Despite warnings from the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers two months ago, things have gotten a little better.

According to the inspectors, the crisis center is’ in a state of crisis’ and is only moving forward thanks to the employees’ ‘enormous effort and enthusiasm’.

There are more than 10,000 minors in asylum reception, of which 1,450 are without parents or supervisors. Many of them should have lived in a normal home for a long time because they have had a residence permit for more than fourteen weeks.

It often happens that children have to sleep too long in night care because they are not yet able to follow the correct procedures. The shelter closes at 06.00, which means they have to get out of bed early. At the regular reception center, minors are often ‘weeks and sometimes months longer’ than the three to ten days that are actually there. All this time without good access to education and care.

When the inspectorate went to look at the central reception center, there were three times as many unaccompanied minors as is usually intended: 170 instead of 55. They are no longer cared for properly. Their rooms get dirty, it is often not possible to eat together, and insecure situations arise because groups of children and young people quarrel with each other. Even minors are robbed.

The Dutch Refugee Council calls the results of the inspections ‘recognizable but nevertheless strong conclusions’. According to the refugee organization, the conditions for children and other vulnerable groups, especially in the overcrowded asylum centers and emergency shelters, are completely unsuitable.

‘Signs of malnutrition’

“Every day we see children who no longer want to eat and who even have symptoms of malnutrition. Children also fall asleep regularly during class due to fatigue complaints. If children have not already suffered trauma in the country they fled from, or on the journey here, there is a significant chance that they will acquire them here at the reception, “says a spokesman for the Refugee Council, who also calls on Van der Burg to intervene.

The inspections found even more problems. For example, the asylum centers try to keep families together, but it sometimes happens that complete strangers are placed in their homes due to lack of beds. A place in Leeuwarden has been set up in such a preliminary way that the supervisory authorities find that there is ‘an emergency situation’ where it would be better not to have children for a longer period of time. It happens anyway.

The inspectorates do not understand that facilities for Ukrainians seem to be better equipped, and not all of these places are even used. They point out that discrimination is prohibited under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Crisis help on the table

The Security Council’s 25 mayors will speak tonight in Utrecht about the crisis reception of asylum seekers. Among other things, the crisis plan that the government announced on Friday, in addition to the crisis preparedness that the security regions themselves are already organizing. State Secretary Eric van der Burg takes a seat in Utrecht.

The crisis emergency center for the overcrowded application center in Ter Apel has been on the agenda of the Security Council for weeks. Recently, mayors said it will be difficult to realize placements for hundreds of refugees for extended periods of time. It is a pity for the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers COA, because if a shelter closes, the asylum seekers who stayed there will return to Ter Apel. The intention is to establish another application center elsewhere in the Netherlands.

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