Sunday 12 July 2020

Dozens of children are rejected as child refugee amnesty runs out

Refugees at Ter Apel

Photo: Peter de Ruiter/ UNHCR Brussel

Children’s right’s campaign group Defence for Children fears that dozens of refugee children who have applied to stay in the Netherlands under the 2019 amnesty are being rejected, broadcaster NOS said on Sunday.

‘We have our eye on hundreds of children who have made a request but more than half of them have been rejected, because according to the IND they don’t met one of the criteria,’ legal advisor Martin Vegter said. ‘This is very worrying.’

The main reason cases are being rejected is that their families were out of view for national government authorities, such as the immigration service or refugee settlement agency, for at least three months.

In one case, a girl whose mother was a victim of human trafficking faces deportation even though she has lived here for more than five years on an ordinary residency permit which has now expired, the organisation said.

The IND said in February that it would review appeals by some 700 refugee children facing deportation by the end of the year, after the four coalition parties agreed to reassess the cases to head of a cabinet crisis. The then-minister said he expected 90% of cases would be honoured.

The Netherlands has been criticised by both human rights groups and psychiatrists for deporting children, many of whom were born here, back to countries where they did not speak the language and which they had never visited.

The issue came to a head in January and threatened to cause a serious rift in the cabinet after the Christian Democrats did a u-turn and said they supported giving the children the right to stay after all.

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