Cabinet's asylum plan violates children's rights: Children's Ombudsman
The asylum plan the government announced on Friday to postpone family reunification in no way complies with the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Children’s Ombudsman Margrite Kalverboer said that in a broadcast of EenVandaag on NPO Radio 1 on Monday, pointing out that the Netherlands committed itself to the treaty.
The treaty states that “states must deal with children’s cases with benevolence, humanity, and urgency,” Kalverboer said. “A child has the right to be reunited with his or her parents.” The treaty also obliges countries to provide extra protection for children with refugee status.
On Friday, State Secretary Eric van der Burg (Asylum) announced in a letter to parliament that the Cabinet is taking additional temporary measures to ease the pressure on the reception of asylum seekers. One of those measures is that the visa provision for the family members of people already in the Netherlands will be adjusted. They will not be allowed to come to the Netherlands until the family has a home. People have to wait up to 15 months for that.
The application center in Ter Apel currently houses far more unaccompanied children than is allowed. This weekend, the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) reported that about 350 underage asylum seekers are staying in Ter Apel without parents, while the center only has room for 55 unaccompanied minors. The COA can accompany 150 unaccompanied children because it adapted the spaces intended for them.
“It seems amateurish that one can not manage to speed up the start of the procedure so that children can be placed in a place where they can start their lives,” Kalverboer said to NPO Radio 1. According to Kalverboer, municipalities should take responsibility and accept a proportional distribution in the reception of asylum seekers. “I think every municipality can take in ten or twenty children, and then the burden is not that huge. We have to move to a small-scale, where everyone feels more comfortable.”