children bear the bulk of the crisis in asylum care

The situation of young people and children in ordinary asylum reception centers needs to be improved rapidly

To live for days in night homes, without access to education or medical care and not receive the guidance and help needed. This is a daily reality for asylum children. Their situation should improve quickly. It writes the Justice and Security Inspectorate and the Health and Youth Inspectorate in a letter to the State Secretary for Justice and Security.

Following this fire letter, the Ministry of Justice and Security announced that a national crisis structure will be established to improve the flow of the migration chain. The supervisors will follow this closely.

A major problem with the pressure on asylum reception is the poor flow of status holders to the municipalities. About a third of the residents at asylum seeker centers are waiting for housing in the municipalities. Because this group has nowhere to go, the pressure on the shelter is increasing and the COA has to add beds and organize emergency shelters. Temporary measures that do not benefit the quality of asylum reception and that pose a real risk to asylum seekers and COA staff.

Within this already vulnerable group, there is an additional vulnerable category: children. In total, there are more than 10,000 children in families, children accompanied by a family member or unaccompanied minor aliens (UAMs). 4200 of them have been granted a residence permit. Instead of averaging one week, they sometimes stay in Ter Apel for several months during their application process. All this time, they have no access to education and, for example, they cannot be vaccinated under the national vaccination program. In addition, unaccompanied minors do not receive the individual attention and guidance they should receive. Due to the high occupancy rate and pressure on staff, admissions no longer take place individually, and there is no good overview of young people’s safety. The guardianship institution Nidos is also not sufficiently able to look after the interests of this group of vulnerable children.

The COA has arranged (crisis) emergency shelters in places where education and limited youth health care are available. But those places are temporary, which means people are constantly being pushed around and there is no continuous guidance and stability. All of this puts a strain on children’s safety and development, but also puts pressure on COA’s staff.

The situation of young people and children in ordinary asylum reception centers needs to be improved rapidly. The inspectors see that in the Netherlands there has been great determination in the reception of Ukrainian refugees. State emergency law was activated for this group so that the municipalities could organize shelters for them. The starting point was that the provisions and rights of Ukrainian refugees should correspond as much as possible to the rights and provisions of all other asylum seekers. In practice, however, thousands of reception places intended for Ukrainian refugees are empty, while the asylum centers can no longer handle the pressure, primarily due to the insufficient outflow of status holders.

The supervisors therefore ask the State Secretary to look closely at the distinction that has arisen in practice between the various groups and to take control of the realization of reception centers in municipalities for (families with) children.

Inspections: Children bear the bulk of the crisis in asylum reception

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Inspections: Children bear the bulk of the crisis in asylum reception
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