The Netherlands urged to do more to protect unaccompanied refugee children
The Netherlands must do more to track down missing refugee children and take steps to make sure they do not disappear, lobby group Defence for Children said on Tuesday.
In the Netherlands, the last available figures date from 2014 and show 110 refugee children disappeared while living in a centre. Some have moved to another country but at least 10 children have vanished from protected care facilities, broadcaster Nos said.
‘These children are within our borders,’ Defence for Children’s Martine Goeman told broadcaster Nos. ‘So it is our responsibility to take the problem seriously.’
This weekend, the EU’s criminal intelligence agency said at least 10,000 unaccompanied child refugees have disappeared after arriving Europe and many are likely to have ended up in the hands of organised traffickers.
Brian Donald told the Guardian a pan-European ‘criminal infrastructure’ is now targeting refugees. ‘It’s not unreasonable to say that we’re looking at 10,000-plus children. Not all of them will be criminally exploited; some might have been passed on to family members. We just don’t know where they are, what they’re doing or whom they are with,’ he said.
The Dutch government, Goeman said, does not do enough to track down missing minors. No nationwide amber alert is issued when a refugee child disappears and many are registered as ‘left for an unknown destination,’ she said. ‘They are a vulnerable group and all the alarm bells should ring when a child refugee disappears.’
Last month, the Volkskrant reported that the police have set up a special programme in an effort to keep criminals away from refugee centres where they are trying to recruit people to become prostitutes or get involved in the drugs trade.
There are currently 47 ongoing investigations into human trafficking around refugee centres, the paper said.