158 organisations sound the alarm: Dutch refugee policy damages children

Migration Concept refugeesDutch policy towards asylum seekers needs to be adapted to ensure as little damage as possible to vulnerable children, 158 organisations say in an advert placed in Friday’s Volkskrant.

The organisations, including Unicef and teaching union Aob, say the rules need to be changed to conform with the UN treaty of the rights of children, which was signed 26 years ago on Friday.

More than 10,000 children are currently living in refugee centres but are regularly moved around the country, damaging both their education and social contacts, campaigners say. In addition, many of the places where they are staying are not child-friendly and access to healthcare is limited.

‘This is damaging to children,’ Unicef spokeswoman Karin Kloosterboer told broadcaster Nos. ‘It is unacceptable to ignore the situation while vulnerable children are the victims of our asylum policy.’

Children who do not show signs of trauma are often ‘left to get on with it’, she told the Volkskrant. ‘We are not talking about luxury issues. These are children who can face problems for the rest of their lives.’

Refugee settlement agency COA told the Volkskrant in a reaction that the surge in refugee numbers has made it ‘often impossible’ to ensure ‘adequate provisions’.

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