There was a very sharp rise in the number of young asylum seekers coming to the Netherlands without parents or guardians last year, according to immigration figures.
In total, some 18,630 asylum seekers under the age of 18 arrived in the Netherlands in 2015. Of them, one in five was without a parent or guardian, a three-fold rise on 2013, the national statistics office CBS said.
Almost 40% were from Syria, three in 10 came from Eritrea and 14% from Afghanistan.
Earlier this month Unicef warned that of the 28,000 people who made the dangerous crossing from Libya to Italy so far this year, over 7,500 were minors and most were travelling alone.
In February, the Dutch children’s ombudsman said underage refugees in the Netherlands risk becoming a ‘lost generation’ unless the standard of care in asylum facilities improves dramatically.
Education minister Sander Dekker admitted at the time the government had no idea how many of the 12,000 refugee children in the Netherlands were at school.
Young, unaccompanied refugees are known as AMAs ( alleenstaande minderjarige asielzoeker) in the Netherlands. They are usually housed in refugee centres until they are 18 when official financial support is withdrawn and they are encouraged to go back home. Many AMAs simply disappear from the system.
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