Massive jump in minor asylum applicants
The Copenhagen Post
Friday, 24 July 2009 10:30
Teenage boys make up the majority of unaccompanied Afghan children claiming asylum in Denmark
The number of unaccompanied Afghan children seeking asylum in Denmark has more than quadrupled in the last two years.
In 2007, the Immigration Service recorded 39 Afghan children under the age of 18 applying for asylum.
By 2008 that figure had increased to 168 and within the first four months of this year alone, 97 Afghan minors had arrived in Denmark as refugees.
According to the Immigration Service, the majority of the minors are male teenagers between 15 and 18 years of age, who have often travelled for months via Iran, Turkey, Greece and Germany before claiming asylum when they are caught crossing the German-Danish border.
Neither the Immigration Service nor the police have been able to offer a reason for the sudden jump in young asylum numbers, but there are indications that Denmark is seen as a transit country for those on their way to Norway or Sweden.
Figures show that two thirds of the applicants leave the country within a few weeks of applying for asylum.
Comparatively, there have been 812 asylum applications from Afghan minors in Norway in the first six months this year, 233 more than the total number from 2008.
Jrgen Chemnitz, head of the Danish Red Cross asylum department, said that Norway is under serious pressure to house all the applicants.
We are also hard pressed, but we can handle the situation with some sound and sensible solutions, even if there are more [applicants] on the way, said Chemnitz.
To house the large number of minor applicants, the Immigration Service rented buildings from the Defence Ministry in the spring and established a temporary childrens asylum reception centre in North Zealand.