Call to shelter 1,700 child asylum seekers resulted in just 100 spots
State Secretary Eric van der Burg’s (Asylum) appeal to municipalities to arrange 1,700 shelter spaces for unaccompanied child asylum seekers by the end of the year has so far resulted in about 100 spots, the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) told NU.nl.
The COA expects another 200 or so spots for these kids in the coming weeks. “We still need places, and we hope that more municipalities will want to cooperate,” a spokesperson said to the newspaper.
Van der Burg asked municipalities to arrange shelter for these children, who are in the Netherlands without parents or guardians, on October 6 after the court ruled that Dutch asylum shelters are well below European standards and that vulnerable groups like children cannot stay in crisis shelters any longer.
If the municipalities can’t arrange 1,700 spaces for unaccompanied children, there is a “real risk” that they will end up sleeping outside in the cold or roaming through municipalities, the State Secretary said.
Several authorities have raised the alarm about the dire situation children in asylum reception are in. The Children’s Ombudsman Margrite Kalverboer has done so multiple times. In a recent letter, she described how she found teenagers in Ter Apel. “Without a bed, without safety and sanitation, without proper food, and without personal guidance. Young people who do not know each other and have been through a lot, who have not slept for days, and who do not feel safe with each other. Young people who are becoming increasingly anxious and experience more and more stress.”
The shelter for unaccompanied children at the asylum registration center in Ter Apel can house 55 children. According to the COA, about 250 children were staying there on Wednesday.
The State appealed against the court’s ruling to improve the reception of asylum seekers in the Netherlands. The appeal will appear in court on November 10.