Most unaccompanied child asylum seekers in NL since refugee crisis
The number of children who came to the Netherlands on their own to seek asylum is at the highest level its been in five years. 655 unaccompanied minors were sheltered in the Netherlands as of September 1. That is the highest number since the end of the refugee crisis in 2016, when the Netherlands sheltered 967 unaccompanied children, and almost double the 342 children of last year, AD reports based on figures from the central agency for the reception of asylum seekers COA.
As of September 1, almost 40 percent of unaccompanied child asylum seekers were of Syrian origin. These kids fled a country ravaged by war, hunger and the coronavirus. More than 6 million children in Syria are confronted with war violence every day, according to Save the Children.
Over the past months, a number of Syrian children were found alone in the Netherlands. On Sunday evening, NS employees at Tilburg station were startled by a 13-year-old boy coming up to them and starting to cry against one of their arms. Last week Monday, an 11-year-old boy was found at the police headquarters in Rotterdam. Last month, an 8-year-old girl with nothing more than Frozen backpack was left at Hoofddorp police station. And at the end of July, an 11-year-old girl was found alone at Utrecht Central Station.
Each of these children carries a harrowing story with them, Martin Vegter of Defense for Children said to AD. "These children have a traumatic past in war zones. That's not even talking about the journey they made, in a boat in the Mediterranean or over land, under appalling conditions."
The Ministry of Justice and Security confirmed the recent increase in unaccompanied child asylum seekers to AD. "This is a worrying development because it concerns children on their own. It is important to keep a close eye on this," a spokesperson said.