Netherlands does not have adequate shelter for 800 child asylum seekers right now
Over 800 unaccompanied minor foreign nationals are currently being sheltered in places that are not suitable for them, and where they hardly receive any guidance. This is evident from figures that ANP requested and obtained from the Ministry of Justice and Security. Out of the large group of children without proper supervised accommodation, roughly 250 have already been granted a residence permit.
The unaccompanied minors are now in hotels, normal shelters for adults, or emergency reception facilities for adults. There has been a shortage of small-scale reception locations for unaccompanied minors for an extended period, despite appeals made to municipalities to arrange this.
Last autumn, the court ruled that the care of unaccompanied children seeking asylum is structurally inadequate, because they often end up in facilities for adults due to a lack of proper shelters. These facilities are large-scale and are considered unsafe for unaccompanied children. Moreover, there is hardly any guidance or social services available for them.
Eric van der Burg, the caretaker state secretary in charge of asylum policy, was told to quickly expand and improve the reception facilities for unaccompanied minors, but this has not yet been sufficiently accomplished due to the existing shortage of places for all asylum seekers, regardless of age and family status.
He said the reception of unaccompanied minors is a major problem, also because their numbers are still increasing. In the past twelve months, almost 5,000 arrived in the Netherlands, half of them from Syria. About a quarter come from Eritrea or Somalia.
Unaccompanied minors are entitled to guidance arranged through Nidos, the organization that carries out the guardianship. They are guided towards self-reliance, so that they can live independently at the age of 18 in their own home, a shared residence, or an asylum seekers' center, or they can return to their country of origin.
To relieve the pressure on the system of special facilities for young people, unaccompanied minors are now placed in a regular asylum seekers’ center months three months before their 18th birthday.
Reporting by ANP