Child refugees will not wait in jail for asylum: Minister

Fred Teeven
State Secretary Fred Teeven. (Fred Teeven)

Families seeking asylum with young children, or single minors seeking asylum in the Netherlands will no longer be locked up in jail. State secretary for Security and Justice, Fred Teeven, has told Parliament that he is going to come with a new location. 

The new, spacious location in Zeist is large enough for children and parents to move freely, Teeven insists. The asylum seekers will have privacy and be able to live a normal family life, and will be able to cook. There will also be an amenities center with a shop, a play area outside and internet facilities.

The area will be closed off, to prevent people from running away and disappearing into illegality. The residence is aimed at working on sending people back, or closer investigation for those who have applied for asylum. Teeven hopes this location will be available from 2015.

The House of Representatives spoke to critics of the child pardon today. Among them were child ombudsman Marc Dullaert, mayor Ostendorp of Bunnik and seven others including civil servants from the Return and Departure Service and the Immigration and Naturalization Service IND.

The discussion was proposed by ChristenUnie, prior to the debate next week with state secretary Fred Teeven. ChristenUnie, SP and GroenLinks want Teeven to expand the pardon so that more children become eligible.

Coalition parties VVD, CDA and PVV are against this expansion. They fear that it attracts more asylum seekers to the country, and that families with children will not want to return to their country of origin if they are rejected. As of now, some rejected asylum seekers, mainly those who want to go back to their country but have not had time to arrange it, and those who are vulnerable and need shelter for medical reasons, have been staying in the former prison Vluchthaven in Amsterdam. They have been ordered to leave after the 31st of May by the municipality, Het Parool reports.

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