Netherlands still holding child asylum seekers in detention centers: UNICEF

Children in a refugee camp
Children in a refugee campPhoto: radekprocyk/DepositPhotos

The Netherlands is still locking child asylum seekers up in detention centers, according to research by UNICEF. Last year the Netherlands held 210 children in detention centers, some of them for up to 82 days. 900 children who applied for asylum in the Netherlands were sent back to their country of origin or another European Union country last year, RTL Nieuws reports.

UNICEF looked into the asylum procedures of the Netherlands, Sweden, Great Britain and Germany. The United Nations Children's Fund found that the Netherlands holds children in detention far more often than its neighboring countries. 

Being held in a detention center has a very harmful effect on children, even if the detention is only for a short duration, according to UNICEF. It increases children's chances of suffering from anxiety or depression, and children often appear to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder after being detained. And yet the Netherlands continues to put children in detention centers as they await being deported, the organization said. 

'These children are lifted from their bed early in the morning and taken to jail. They are terribly scared, their world is literally turned upside down. A traumatic experience for many, while being absolutely not necessary", Suzanne Laszlo, director of UNICEF Nederland, said to RTL.

The UNICEF research also found that the Netherlands too often ignores the needs and wishes of children. Conversations are not always conducted in a child-friendly manner, so they often do not know what is happening to them. The Dutch authorities also do not inform children properly about their return to their home country, which means they are insufficiently prepared for it.