The children whom it concerns
The children whom it concerns.
Each year, many children come to the Netherlands without their parents and apply for asylum. They have to leave their country of birth due to undesirable circumstances and are also referred to as unaccompanied minor asylum seekers (UMAs).
These children vary in age from 0 to 18 years, but the majority are 14 years or older. They come from many continents and countries. UMAs have usually fled from their own country because they felt threatened by war, chaos, disquiet or other poor living conditions.
Some children have been sent to a safe country by their parents or family. Others have come themselves by boat, aeroplane or lorry. A small number of these children have travelled along with little brothers and sisters or other family members, but the majority have travelled with a travel guide or have come alone.
On the one hand, these children have been through a great deal, but on the other hand they have often known a ‘normal’ family life, as a result of which they have a solid development basis. However, this solid basis has been disrupted by war or another threatening situation.
In principle, we consider UMAs as ‘normal’ children who have ended up in ‘abnormal’ circumstances. This requires a specific method of reception aimed at learning to deal with the following: – being homesick for and lacking family;
– horrible, sometimes traumatic experiences;
– being homesick for their own country;
– the uncertain future in the Netherlands;
– the new culture with new customs, rules and a different language.
Upon arrival in the Netherlands, the children submit an asylum application. A lawyer helps them with this and Nidos ensures that the procedure is conducted properly. Next, on the basis of the interviews and any additional information, the Immigration and Naturalisation service [IND] investigates whether a child has the right to a residence status and makes a decision on this matter.