In one month, 2,000 minor asylum seekers ‘lost’ in Europe

AP

NOS News

  • Sjoerd Mouissie

    data journalist

  • Ellen Kamphorst

    editor Interior

  • Sjoerd Mouissie

    data journalist

  • Ellen Kamphorst

    editor Interior

In the month of July, Europe ‘lost’ 2000 minor asylum seekers. This is shown by figures from the European statistical office Eurostat. Bulgaria and Austria take the cake: For one month in 1840, minor asylum seekers could no longer be found there. In Austria, a total of around 5000 minors have already left the shelter this year, according to Austrian experts, this group is not monitored.

An asylum seeker is ‘lost’ if he has first requested reception and then disappears from the place of reception.

There are no such figures in the Netherlands. Unlike in Austria, where minors first have to wait alone at the reception, unaccompanied foreign national minors (AMVs) directly have a guardian here. In principle, guidance is available to them 24 hours a day. At the moment there are far too few shelters.

NOS/Sjoerd Mouissie

In July, European countries ‘lost’ 2,000 minor asylum seekers

Lisa Wolfsegger works as an expert on minor refugees for the Austrian refugee organization. She explains that Austria has strict border controls: “Every asylum seeker passing through it has to apply for asylum, including minors who are in transit to relatives elsewhere.”

Through the so-called Dublin regulation, Austria can transfer the minor asylum seekers to the country where their family is, but this can take months. That is why some leave immediately.

Once there, you will see children with backpacks waiting outside for human traffickers.

Lisa Wolfsegger, Refugee Work Austria

According to Wolfsegger, the first camp they arrive in Austria is the biggest problem: “The camp in Traiskirchen is overcrowded, there are 2,000 people, 400 of whom are minors, and there is hardly any supervision. When you are there, you see children with backpacks . waiting outside for human traffickers.”

Most of the 5,000 children who have gone missing in Austria this year are Afghan. According to Wolsegger, the story goes around among Afghans that Austria does not accept Afghans, while practice shows the opposite. The vast majority of Afghan asylum seekers are granted residence permits there.

NOS/Sjoerd Mouissie

Afghan children in particular disappear from European asylum systems

Wolfsegger is disappointed with the Austrian government. “The fact that almost 5,000 children have already disappeared this year does not seem to interest our government. We want children to have a guardian from day one and that care is in small camps from the start.”

In July, 17 percent of all new asylum applications in the Netherlands were submitted by an unaccompanied foreign minor (amv), according to figures from Eurostat. In that month, it is the highest proportion in all of Europe – at least for the countries that provide data on unaccompanied minors to Eurostat. France, for example, does not.

You can see more about minor asylum seekers in the Netherlands in this video from NOS Stories:

The available figures also show that a year ago there were still large differences in the monthly influx of unaccompanied minors. That group now appears to be spreading much more widely across Europe.

In the Netherlands, too, children are disappearing from childcare. Until August this year, the asylum procedure for 85 UMAs was stopped because they could not be found, according to the same figures from Eurostat. However, this does not mean that these children have disappeared in the past year – often it has already happened before. It usually takes some time before the asylum procedure is formally closed after a child goes missing.

Investigative journalist Sanne Terlingen works for VPROs argos more broadcasts about these minors. Together with the research collective Lost in Europe, she looks at the European figures: “We are investigating how it is possible for huge numbers of children to disappear and no one is looking for them. For example, we discovered that Vietnamese young people in the Netherlands disappear from sheltered shelters. that they ‘left themselves’ but we found they are under pressure from human traffickers.”

Two of the missing boys were found dead in a refrigerated truck near Essex, Terlingen continues. “In England, Germany and Belgium, Vietnamese are found on cannabis plantations and in nail salons, where they are exploited.”

  • NOS/Sjoerd Mouissie

    The Netherlands registers relatively the most child asylum seekers in Europe
  • NOS/Sjoerd Mouissie

    Record number of unaccompanied minors to the Netherlands

“Unaccompanied minors go on trips and meet people in all countries who give them information about the escape routes,” says Elianne Zijlstra. She is assistant professor and coordinator of the Research and Expertise Center for Children and Immigration Law at the University of Groningen. “Sometimes it happens through social media, sometimes through other asylum seekers, refugees and also through people smugglers. The latter group certainly has a lot of power and influence.”

Experts know little about how this group moves through Europe, says Zijlstra. “And it’s striking, because it’s about vulnerable young people.” It was previously indicated to the EU that more research should be done and that this group should be closely monitored. A common European approach is necessary, according to Zijlstra, “but unfortunately it is not happening yet.”

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