Over the past ten years, 2,500 children have left asylum seekers centers “with an unknown destination” according to a report published Monday by NRC, who cites information from the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) and guardianship institution Nidos.
COA and Nidos tell NRC that some of the asylum-seeking children join family in the Netherlands or elsewhere in Europe, “but an unknown part falls into the hands of human traffickers.” The National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings, Herman Bolhaar, reported last year that between 2014 and 2018, the minor victims of exploitation came from Vietnam (63), Eritrea (59), Afghanistan (40), Guinea (35), Sierra Leone (22) and Syria (17).
NRC writes that over the past decade, more than 11,700 unaccompanied minor refugees have applied for asylum in the Netherlands and least 2,556 left early, though the exact number of children could be higher. The number of child run-aways in the last year has “risen sharply.”
The Healthcare and Youth Inspectorate and the Justice and Safety Inspectorate concluded more than a year ago that “the quality of the reception and support of unaccompanied minors was not optimal.” Inspections revealed that “too little attention was paid to ‘safety risks’ and insufficient cooperation between mentors in the asylum seekers’ centers and the guardian of the children.”
NRC explains that asylum seekers under the age of 15 reside with foster families; some children who stay in the Netherlands go to a Nidos living group that houses 4-12 young people; and young people “who have little chance of staying in residence” live at COA. Children who are victims of human trafficking or who are at an increased risk of human trafficking “receive intensive support in one of…two sheltered reception centers.”
COA figures illustrate that over the last 10 years, more than 100 children have disappeared from their COA shelter. According to NRC, “Most children walk away from reception centers in Ter Apel (302) and Oisterwijk (177).”