Children bearing the brunt of the crisis in asylum care

The situation of young people and children receiving regular asylum must be improved quickly

Staying for days in night shelters, without access to education or medical care and not receiving needed guidance and assistance. This is a daily reality for refugee children. Their situation should improve quickly. This was written by the Justice and Security Inspectorate and the Health Care and Youth Inspectorate in a letter to the Minister of State for Justice and Security.

After this fire speech, the Ministry of Justice and Security announced that a national crisis structure will be established to improve the flow of the immigration chain. Inspection departments will follow this closely.

A major problem with the pressure on asylum reception is the weak influx of people in status into the municipalities. About a third of the population of centers for asylum seekers are waiting for housing in the municipalities. Since this group has nowhere to go, the pressure on the shelter is increasing and the COA has to add a family and organize an emergency shelter. 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 a group most at risk: children. This concerns a total of more than 10,000 children in families, children accompanied by a family member or unaccompanied foreign nationals (UAMs). 4,200 of them received a residence permit. Instead of an average week, they sometimes stay at Ter Apel for months for the duration of their application process. All this time, they do not have access to education and cannot, for example, be vaccinated under the national immunization programme. In addition, unaccompanied minors do not receive the individual attention and guidance that they should receive. Due to the high occupancy rate and pressure on staff, intakes are no longer done individually and there is no good view of youth safety. The Nidos Trust is also unable to adequately represent the interests of this group of vulnerable children.

The COA has arranged emergency (crisis) shelter in places where there is limited education and health care for young people. But these places are temporary, which means that people are constantly being pushed and there is no constant direction and stability. All of this puts a strain on children’s safety and development, but it also puts pressure on COA employees.

The situation of young people and children receiving regular asylum must be quickly improved. In the opinion of the inspection bodies, a great deal of decisiveness has appeared in the Netherlands in accepting Ukrainian refugees. The state emergency law has been activated for this group so that municipalities can organize shelters for them. The starting point was that the provisions and rights of Ukrainian refugees should be as equivalent as possible to those of all other asylum seekers. But in practice, thousands of reception places for Ukrainian refugees are empty, while centers for asylum seekers can no longer handle the pressure, mainly due to the insufficient flow of residence holders.

Therefore, the Inspectorate asks the Secretary of State to carefully consider the discrimination that has arisen in practice between the different groups and to control the realization of reception sites in the municipalities (for families with) children.

Inspection: Children bear the brunt of the crisis in receiving asylum

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Inspection: Children bear the brunt of the crisis in receiving asylum
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