ANPingle minor aliens at an unaccompanied minor shelter
NOS Nieuws•vandaag, 17:35
Once again, the shelter for unaccompanied minor asylum seekers (unaccompanied minors) in Ter Apel is bursting at the seams. During the night from Wednesday to Thursday, 351 young people stayed on the site, the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) confirms.
That is almost seven times more than intended; Formally speaking, there is room for 55 unaccompanied minors in the registration center. They stay in a separate area on the site, with extra guidance and security.
Last night, young people were transferred to adult shelter with extra security guards, a COA spokesperson said. “We are looking for all kinds of options to give these children a place. Of course, we want to provide guidance right away, but this is an emergency solution, so that guidance is not available yet.”
Accident in slow motion
The number of unaccompanied minor asylum seekers has been increasing for several years. Many more applied for asylum in the first half of 2023 (1,852) than in the first six months of 2022 (1,198).
In March, the COA and guardianship organization Nidos – responsible for the guidance of young people – made an appeal for more shelter places. That call was repeated in June.
Last year, outgoing State Secretary Van der Burg of Asylum and Migration sent an urgent letter to municipalities. Only one municipality responded to the request for sustainable shelters.
There were consultations between COA directors and Van den Burg on Wednesday. In it, the State Secretary said that priority should be given to unaccompanied minors and parents with children. Asylum seekers without children and men traveling alone must sleep on chairs if necessary.
Shelter locations open
Today, 41 unaccompanied young people are again expected at the registration center. It is still unclear whether and where they can find a place, says the COA.
Unicef Netherlands fears that children will have to sleep on chairs again. “All employees are doing their utmost, but the pressure is enormous because no new locations are being opened. Children lack structure, wander around the grounds and lack sufficient personal attention,” according to the children’s rights organization,
A number of reception locations will reopen on October 1, because the festival season is ending. Van der Burg hopes that this will relieve the pressure.
Municipalities afraid of nuisance
The number of young people applying for asylum is not higher than expected. At the end of the summer it is common for more people to apply for asylum in Ter Apel. This also applies to young people. Between August 21 and September 21, 805 unaccompanied minors arrived in Ter Apel; for comparison: in the winter months approximately 200 young people applied for asylum in a month.
The question is why it doesn’t work with those extra childcare places. “We made an appeal months ago and there was little response,” says a COA spokesperson. “The reasons will be diverse. It also has to do with the image that municipalities have of young people. Some residents of municipalities still have a prejudice that this group causes a nuisance. In practice, this turns out not to be so bad,” said COA. .
To keep the influx of asylum seekers manageable, so-called ‘waiting rooms’ have been set up where unregistered asylum seekers can go.
The shelter opened for this purpose in Assen (500 places) is full. That is why a new ‘waiting room’ (300 places) was opened in Amsterdam on Tuesday in an old office building behind Ikea in Zuidoost. According to a spokesperson for Justice, dozens more places will be added at small-scale locations in other municipalities.