Poor treatment of refugee children angers Unicef Netherlands

Refugees at the Lebanon-Syria border (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/H. Murdock). (Child asylum seekers (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/H. Murdock))

UNICEF Netherlands is concerned about refugee children in the country being relocated from emergency shelter to emergency shelter. Director Jan Bouke Wijbrandi is concerned about the affect this has on traumatized children and worries that the Dutch government is not putting the needs of the child first.

Wijbrandi made his concerns known in an interview he and State Secretary Martin van Rijn of Public Health had with newspaper Trouw.

The UNICEF director thinks that the large number of refugees entering the Netherlands may lead to a climate where human rights do not always come first. He is calling on the government to look at refugee children and see the child first and refugee second. "After that you still have many practical problems to solve, but in that order", Wijbrandi said to the newspaper.

Van Rijn responded that the large number of refugees are creating extraordinary circumstances, but the shelter is well organized and respects human rights. He acknowledged that the refugee children often have to be relocated, but at least it is happening in a safe country. "Yes they come here and end up in an emergency shelter, and yes they often have to move three times. And we know that moving three times is worse than twice. But they are moving in a safe country", the state secretary said in the interview with Trouw.

The full interview will be published in Trouw's Verdieping on Wednesday.