Thursday 07 July 2022

Reports slam treatment of child refugees in temporary accommodation

Refugee children on the Syrian border.Two reports out on Monday have slammed the treatment of children in Dutch refugee centres, particularly in temporary accommodation in sports halls and other unsuitable spaces.

Children are not only being confronted with stress and sometimes violence, but do not have proper access to healthcare and education, the justice and youth services inspectors say in a new report. The longer the situation continues, the report says, the more damaging it will be for their development.

On Friday, the government set up a national crisis team in an effort to improve the provision of accommodation for refugees, after the Red Cross described the current situation as ‘deplorable’ and ‘inhumane’. The inspectors say they will be monitoring the situation closely.

A second report on Monday, drawn up by children’s rights organisations Unicef, Save The Children and Defence for Children, has also called on the government to move some 2,000 children from emergency accommodation to small scale centres as soon as possible.

That report says that children feel unsafe because of the lack of privacy and are sleeping badly because of the noise. They are often denied access to education because officials are not sure how long they will stay at a given location.

Children are also unfamiliar with Dutch food which is provided for them and therefore eat badly. Constant moving from centre to centre is also increasing their stress levels, the aid groups say.

10,000 children

According to government figures, more than 10,000 children are currently living in refugee accommodation, of whom 1,450 are without parents or guardians. Of them, almost 2,400 should have moved to regular housing but cannot because of the nationwide housing crisis.

‘Hundreds of them have been waiting for more than a year,’ the government inspectors say.

Refugee agency VluchtelingenWerk Nederland, which was involved in the second report, told news agency ANP that overcrowded refugee centres and temporary accommodation in sports centres or tents are totally unsuitable for children.

‘If children avoided trauma in the country they came from, or on their journey, there is a considerable likelihood that they will here,’ a spokesman said.

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