Tuesday 19 October 2021

Dutch refugee centres should do more for children, says new report

Refugees at Ter Apel

Photo: Peter de Ruiter/ UNHCR Brussel

Children in Dutch refugee centres live in conditions which do not meet the standards set down in international children’s rights treaties, particularly in terms of privacy, according to a new report.

The report, drawn up on behalf of refugee settlement agency COA and a group of children’s charities, states that the lack of privacy through shared washrooms and kitchens is a major cause for concern.

The researchers spoke to 148 children aged six to 12, 87 teenagers and 77 parents who lived at 10 different locations across the Netherlands.

Some 7,000 children are currently living in refugee centres or in family centres awaiting to be deported.

The researchers recommend that families should be given more room to themselves – particularly a bathroom and toilet. In addition, children should have a separate bedroom to their parents.

‘Children have the right to family life,’ said project coordinator and Unicef staffer Helen Schuurmans. ‘We would urge a separate living space for every family.’

The report also states that children should not be moved to another centre in the middle of a school year and should only be moved if another school has been organised for them.

Last year, MPs agreed to take steps so that families with school-aged children were not moved from centre to centre on a regular basis. The children involved in the survey had moved an average of once in the past year but some had moved five or six times.

‘Every time a child moves they have to make new friends, get to know new teachers, treatment they are undergoing is broken off… the consequences of constant moving are major,’ Schurrmans said.

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