Sudden influx of child refugees
The Copenhagen Post
Monday, 15 March 2010 15:55 RC News
The number of unaccompanied refugee children arriving in Denmark is at an all-time high, according to the Danish Red Cross, which claims it is having problems handling the influx.
Since January 2009, Danish immigration authorities have opened six new children's refugee centres. But it still isnt enough, says Gitte Nielsen, manager of the centres.
We just dont have enough capacity to keep up with the flow and speed with which the children are coming in, she told Politiken newspaper. Id guess that were receiving about 20 children a week right now.
Nielsen said it was almost exclusively boys who made up the influx primarily from Afghanistan.
A total of 469 unaccompanied refugee children came to Denmark in 2009, of which 337 were from Afghanistan. By contrast, since 1990, a total of 168 unaccompanied Afghan minors were registered in Denmark by Immigration Service as of 2008.
The trend is the same for much of Europe, according to new figures from UN refugee agency UNHCR, which stated that more than 6000 Afghan children sought asylum in Europe last year. The figure is an increase of 64 percent over that of 2008.
Many of the children seeking asylum are smuggled into the country, according to Kim Kjr of South Jutland Police.
Most commonly the children say they came to Denmark because they feared the Taliban. Other children claim they are fleeing war and poverty in the hope of a better life the explanation most often heard by Kjr.
Parents are afraid of losing their children to war and so they send them off to Europe, he said. Id probably do the same for my children if I was in that situation.
Integration Minister Birthe Ronn Hornbech has refused to comment on the trend. But Liberal Party integration spokesperson, Karsten Lauritzen, said Denmark has an obligation to accept the children no matter how many arrive in the future.