In one month, 2,000 underage asylum seekers were “lost” in Europe

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NOS . News

  • shord moisey

    data journalist

  • Ellen Camforst

    internal editor

  • shord moisey

    data journalist

  • Ellen Camforst

    internal editor

In July, Europe “lost” 2,000 underage asylum seekers. This is according to figures from the European statistics office Eurostat. Bulgaria and Austria got the cake: in the month of 1840, minor asylum seekers could no longer be found there. In Austria, about 5,000 minors have left the orphanage this year, according to Austrian experts, this group is not subject to supervision.

An asylum seeker is lost if he first requested reception and then disappeared from the reception site.

There are no such figures in the Netherlands. Unlike in Austria, where minors first have to wait alone at the reception, Unaccompanied minor foreign nationals (amv’ers) have a direct guardian here. In principle, guidance is available to them 24 hours a day. At the moment there are very few shelters.

NOS / Schord Moisey

In July, European countries “lost” 2,000 underage asylum seekers

Lisa Wolfseiger works as an expert on underage refugees for the Austrian Refugee Agency. She explained that Austria has strict border controls: “Every asylum seeker who passes through it must apply for asylum, including minors who move to their relatives elsewhere.”

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

When you’re there, you’ll see kids with backpacks outside waiting for people smugglers.

Lisa Wolfseiger, Refugee Organization Austria

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

Most of the 5,000 children who have disappeared in Austria this year are Afghans. According to Woolseger, the story circulates among Afghans that Austria does not accept Afghans, while practice shows otherwise. The vast majority of Afghan asylum seekers receive a residence permit there.

NOS / Schord Moisey

Afghan children in particular are disappearing from European asylum systems

Wolfsieger is disappointed with the Austrian government. “The fact that nearly 5,000 children have already disappeared this year does not seem to matter to our government. We would like the children to have a guardian from day one and to have the shelter in small camps from the start.”

In July, 17 percent of all new asylum applications in the Netherlands were made by an unaccompanied minor foreign national, according to Eurostat figures. That month, this was the highest percentage in all of Europe – at least for countries that submit data on unaccompanied minors to Eurostat. France, for example, does not.

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

Available figures also show that a year ago there were still significant differences in the monthly influx of unaccompanied minors. It appears that this group is now spread more widely throughout Europe.

In the Netherlands, too, children disappear from childcare. As of August this year, asylum procedures for 85 UMAs have been halted because they have not been found, according to the same Eurostat figures. But this does not mean that these children disappeared in the last year – this often happened before. It usually takes some time before the asylum procedure is officially closed after the child’s disappearance.

Investigative journalist Sanne Terlingen works for VPROs Argus Many radio programs are about these minors. Together with the research group Lost in Europe, it looks at European personalities: “We are investigating how large numbers of children are likely to go missing and no one goes looking for them. For example, we find out that young Vietnamese in the Netherlands are hiding from shelters, and that they “are left behind.” themselves,” but we found that they are under pressure from people smugglers.

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

  • NOS / Schord Moisey

    The Netherlands has relatively the highest number of child asylum seekers in Europe
  • NOS / Schord Moisey

    Record numbers of unaccompanied minors to the Netherlands

“Unaccompanied minors go on a trip and meet people in every country who give them information about escape routes,” says Elaine Zigelstra. She is Assistant Professor and Coordinator of the Center for Research and Expertise on Child and Migration Law at the University of Groningen. “This happens sometimes via social media, sometimes via other asylum seekers and refugees and also through human traffickers. The latter group certainly has a lot of power and influence.”

Zijlstra says experts know little about how this group moved across Europe. “And that’s amazing, because it’s about vulnerable young people.” The European Union has previously been told that more research is needed and that this group should be closely monitored. According to Zijlstra, a common European approach is needed, “but unfortunately that has not happened yet.”

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