Migrant policy file
Our investigative journalists analyse asylum procedures and migration policies, and research the gaps in the asylum process through which many migrant minors disappear.
Our investigative journalists analyse asylum procedures and migration policies, and research the gaps in the asylum process through which many migrant minors disappear.
Another new Lost in Europe investigation started last week. Journalists from El Mundo, BBC, Argos, Avgi and others will look into underage migrants convicted of human trafficking in the Mediterranean. IJ4EU funded the project group with almost 50K to kickstart the research. Find updates about the project soon on lostineurope.eu.
I'm Reza and I'm 21 years old. I'm currently living in Utrecht. I left Afghanistan when I was 14 years old. I don't want to go back. I haven't been there for years. My future in the Netherlands would be much safer if I could only get asylum.
One of Lost in Europe’s founders Geesje van Haren spoke at the Freelance journalism empowerment conference on the 9th of June. She joined the other panelist to talk about what Lost in Europe is about, how the collective started and how we are organised. This fit the 45-minute panel with the topic 'Join the Force: how to create a successful freelance collective or cross-border team’. The other panelists were: Jelena Prtotic from the #MeToo in the Medical Sector project, Juliette Robert from YouPress, and Michael Bird, Mobile Workers: Invisible Citizens. And moderated by the journalist and editor Mercy Abang. Curious to see the talk? Watch it back on the European Journalism Centre YouTube channel, timestamp 2:33:44.
The plight of child migrants in Europe is one of the most pressing issues in the so-called migrant crisis. The goal of Lost in Europe is therefore to recover the stories of these missing children. Read more on why and how we do this in our contribution for social practice platform ‘Beyond the Now’. In the article we also share what we've learned since the start of Lost in Europe in 2018.
The European Court in Luxembourg ruled last January 2021 against the Netherlands for not properly observing children's rights. "Groundbreaking', say lawyers Talia Radcliffe and Andrea Pool. They are digging through the files of dozens of unaccompanied minor refugees (UMAs) who can now appeal to that judgment. The European Court of Appeal demands that the Netherlands amend its rules so that more minors may be granted asylum.
The judges advise the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) to adjust the policy regarding unaccompanied minors. But the IND does not embrace this advice. During the hearing on 15 March, the department informed the judge that it would not amend its policy. They will appeal against the ruling.
Read the story of Mary, a Nigerian mother who fought to hold on to her child in Italy here on the BBC website.
Young asylum seekers still end up on the streets due to incorrect age registration. That is what Lost in Europe researchers found out. It still happens from time to time that asylum seekers end up being registered as an adult, when they are actually still a child. This can jeopardize children's rights.
The European Court of Appeal in Luxembourg and the Court of Appeal in Den Bosch, The Netherlands, are reprimanding the Netherlands for its asylum policy regarding unaccompanied minor refugees (UMAs). The successive rulings in January and February 2021 show that the Netherlands keeps young people in uncertainty for too long if they apply for asylum in the Netherlands.
The Dutch case of voluntary relocation with ... preferences.
The disaster of Moria, last September, "activated" for a while the solidarity feelings of some of our European partners or, more correctly, increased the pressure on the governments of some EU member states to accept a few dozen refugees from Greece through voluntary and bilateral programs. One of these countries was the Netherlands, which for the last two years has been implementing the flexible and voluntary solidarity of the Commission's proposals for the new European Pact on Immigration and Asylum, a year before the Pact was even presented.
A few days after the fire, the Dutch cabinet promised to bring 100 "of the most vulnerable victims of this disaster" to the Netherlands. The promise has not been kept.
Last spring, eight unaccompanied minors from Camp Moria in Greece came to Berlin - a few months later three of them disappeared from their shelters. The police is searching for information.
Two unaccompanied boys who arrived in Berlin from the burned-down Moria refugee camp last spring disappeared from their shelters after a short time. A spokesman for the Berlin police said, the boys from Afghanistan probably moved on to relatives. But the responsible guardians wonder, if the police really tried to find them.
Travel restrictions due to Covid-19 do not apply to a group of Nigerian asylum seekers. They were deported from The Netherlands to Nigeria by the Repatriation and Departure Service on December 18. Also on the aircraft were two children aged two and six years old. According to human rights organizations, the children should not have been on board. The deportation took place by a charter flight instead of a passenger plane.
After the devastating fires in camp Moria on the Greek island of Lesbos, Dutch opposition and coalition parties immediately urged for quick help. There was an agreement: the Moria deal. A total of one hundred vulnerable people, including fifty unaccompanied children, would come to the Netherlands before Christmas. However, no one knows where these unaccompanied minor asylum seekers are. The Ministry of Justice and Security does not answer questions about which children meet the criteria, they are not (yet) in the Netherlands.
In the Netherlands asylum seekers originating from "safe countries" from now on will be assigned a separate, sober reception location. They are separated from the group of asylum seekers from "unsafe countries" on the basis of their nationality. Regardless of their personal flight story. Groups from safe countries that do have a chance of obtaining an asylum permit, such as political activists and LHTBs, are also subjected to the new measure.
Muhammed Sanneh was an orphan when he left The Gambia aged 16 to try and find a way to support his two younger siblings. They had all been living with his grandmother in the northern town of Basse, where life was a struggle. Five-and-a-half years later, the young migrant lives on the Italian island of Sicily, where he is fluent in Italian and has been fostered by a local family.
Lost in Europe was picked up by national TV in Gambia! Ismail Einashe’s story on a Gambian migrant fostered by an Italian family is featured at our facebookpage (video in English, credits QTV News).
"A stark reminder that we have to find a sustainable solution." That is what Ursula von der Leyen, head of the European Commission, calls last month's fires in Camp Moria. The recent fires have completely destroyed the camp. It remains unclear where all refugees and migrants should now be housed.
European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson announced the details of the new European migration pact. The new pact is the answer to the European migration issue surrounding reception at the European external borders and is the successor to Dublin Regulation III. The purpose of the pact is to distribute migrants among more EU countries and to introduce “coercive solidarity”. Dublin Regulation III has received much criticism in recent years. Given the failure of previous negotiations, the question is whether an agreement will be reached quickly.
Following international criticism, the Vucjak tent camp in Bosnia was closed on December 10, 2019. The camp should have been a temporary solution from the desperate local politicians. With the evacuation of the camp, tensions have exploded in the politically divided country, especially in the northwestern region bordering Croatia. The mayor there feels left to his own devices by the government. His fellow citizens are tired of the endless stream of refugees and humanitarian organizations such as IOM cannot act quickly due to the slow decision-making from the government.
Yesterday was 'World Suicide Prevention Day', on this day people worldwide think about people who have died by suicide or who survived an attempt. Suicide is one of the most common causes of death worldwide.
Yet little is known in the Netherlands about suicides and suicide attempts among migrants and refugees. That is why the editors of Argos and Small Stream Media are researching suicides and suicide attempts among unaccompanied migrants, refugee children and young people as part of the Lost in Europe project. We do this in both the Netherlands and Germany. We speak with mentors, pediatricians, psychologists, social workers, children and young people to get a better picture of this problem. The first article in our series will be posted soon.
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. On this day, people worldwide reflect on people who died by suicide or those who survived an attempt. In addition, attention is drawn to the prevention of suicide. The organizers also hope to remove the stigma surrounding suicide and make the subject a topic for discussion.
Greece asked other European member states to support the reception of 2500 unaccompanied refugee children last year. Thirteen countries have already responded to this. The Dutch government does not. Dutch politicians are strongly divided on this.
Fishing and pleasure boating are blind spots in the border control of Dutch waters that should prevent human smuggling and cross-border crime. his investigation by the Dutch Inspectorate of Justice and Security shows that border control in Dutch seaports is not functioning as intended. The Royal Netherlands Marechaussee and the Rotterdam Seaport Police are not aware of all risks.
July 30 is the United Nation's World Day Against Trafficking in Persons -- it's the international day to raise awareness about the plight of human trafficking victims and to call for their rights to be protected. On this day we're hosting a special Q&A session on ZOOM with two of our journalists from the Lost in Europe collective.
This special Q&A session will feature two of our top investigative journalists, Cecilia Ferrara and Ismail Einashe. Do you want to learn about how Lost in Europe works? what stories Cecilia and Ismail are working on? do you want to learn which journalistic techniques work and which don't? Then do please reserve your free spot.
Date: Thursday 30 July
Time: 17.00-18.00 CEST (Central European time)
Link to sign up.
The last time Filmmaker Joost van Beek was in Sicily he was eighteen years old. As a teenager he reluctantly visited old temples and mostly slept a lot. Now he speaks with migrants Amadou and Boubacar, both eighteen, who are trying to live their lives in the Sicilian capital Palermo. And that is not always easy. Despite everything, they remain positive. "We should be grateful for the little blessings."
This film was made during the Lost in Europe Summer School 2019 in Sicily.
Today we are honored by The Hermes Center for Transparancy and Digital Human Rights (Hermes Center). Well, we are honored to be supported by them, together with Renewable Freedom Foundation (RFF). Through the Digital Whistleblowing Fund they enable investigative journalism groups such as ours to start a secure whistleblowing platform.
Do you wish to safely leak something to our journalists, please visit our platform.
The Dutch government pumps 3.5 to 4 million into the improvement of the reception and protection for unaccompanied minor asylum seekers in Greece. With this money the Dutch want to set up guardianship facilities in Greece, set up and organize the reception of unaccompanied minors and offer assistance in guiding those who have completed the asylum procedure. The aid comes at a time when several Dutch cities show their willingness to receive the UMAs who are trapped in Greece into their municipalities.
Free Press Unlimited will deliver an online platform for the Lost in Europe collective. In this secure environment participating journalists across Europe will collaborate and share information. Also whistleblowers in professional roles as well as any European citizen can anonymously share tips on missing child migrants and contribute ideas.
With Tate Modern as his local art museum, Ismail Einashe has seen the
benefits, both as a participant and visitor, of having a cultural
institution next door. Tate Exchange offers a
model for a new way forward, through conversation, participation and
collaboration. Read more.
Last Friday, the asylum seekers' center in Sneek (NL) closed. At that time 22 people in the azc were infected with the corona virus. All residents were forced to quarantine and over the course of the weekend, 400 people, both residents and employees, were tested for the virus. The infected number of residents came to 28. It is difficult to isolate and there is a lot of worry among them.
For this short film by Mo Hersi the filmmaker felt inspired by thinker and philosopher Alphonse Muambi, who's idea it was to close the borders between Europe and Africa, from both sides. Hersi brought these ideas to life in this 'mockumentary': The borders between Europe and Africa are closed from both sides. In the meantime, the Netherlands is flooded and many people want to flee to Africa. But not everyone can flee, only people with an African background are allowed to enter Africa. The people who don't are forced to stay in Europe, or try to cross the road illegally. Mo Hersi himself says that this film "holds up a mirror to society."
Nine underage immigrants were held for weeks at various Greek police stations in 2016. Their rights were violated several times. After a three-year trial, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled on the case in February 2019.
All roads lead to Rome. It's an old saying that never went out of style. Many people still come to Rome for work or holidays. For many refugees it is an important destination too, where they receive help from the various communities that have settled there. In addition, a large network of NGOs and volunteers provides informal facilities: from housing and care to voluntary legal aid, mental assistance, food and clothes. But the new trend in Italian politics, initiated by former Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, to crack down on migrants led to many evictions in Rome and the closure of illegal shelters. This includes the closure of an abandoned chemical plant called "Ex-Penicillina" and "Baobab", and an informal camp at Tiburtina train station.
In 'Diploma' maker Aurora Peters follows 27-year-old Mamadou Gary. In 2013 he fled from Mali via Libya to Italy. When he arrived in his current hometown of Catania, he took a course to have a chance of ending up at university.
A group of mainly young Eritreans who call themselves "Dublin Brothers" is in danger of being put on the street again when the winter shelter in Amsterdam closes on April 1. The group of young migrants have a Dublin claim elsewhere in Europe and are staying in the Netherlands illegally in the hope they can apply for asylum in this country later on. Some of the youngsters are said to be minors.
According to Europol, 70 people have been arrested following a pan-European action against child smuggling. The action was supported by Europol and carried out under the leadership of the UK. Suspects were arrested in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain and the United Kingdom. At least 53 of the 206 victims were still children. Europol has not yet said what crimes the suspects would have committed.
The Gibraltar Police (Royal Gibraltar Regimen) and the Spanish National Police Unit (Policía Nacional) say they have dismantled a network of people smugglers with the support of Europol. The group is suspected of smuggling at least 130 Moroccans to Gibraltar. 8 of them were minors.
In 10 years time more than 2,500 vulnerable children have disappeared from Dutch asylum seekers 'centers, showed NRC Handelsblad. And it seems that no Amber Alert has ever been used for such a child. How did that happen? That's wat Member of Parliament Groothuizen (D66) wants to know from the Dutch State Secretary for Justice and Security. In addition, the State Secretary was questioned on the possible causes of the disappearances and the responsibility that the Dutch government has for these children, who run great risk of becoming victims of human trafficking.
The Council of Europe is being called upon by the Parliamentary Assembly this January to "do more to combat trafficking in human beings and ensure that legal standards are adequate and applied by all member states". The advisory body of the EU-council is particularly deeply concerned about the situation surrounding migrant and refugee children and calls for "consideration of coordinated strategies for mutual assistance and the exchange of information on missing refugee and migrant children and unidentified dead children."
Missing unaccompanied minors are a problem that the refugee crisis in Europe has caused. In Germany, the number of missing unaccompanied minors in early 2019 was lower than two years earlier. Nevertheless, a decrease in the number of missing children does not necessarily indicate that the reception system has improved.
Sudanese Khalaf is now 19. He arrived in the Netherlands 4 years ago. Khalaf is one of the nearly 12,000 unaccompanied minors who have come to our country in the past ten years. His flight story did not provide sufficient grounds for a residence permit, the Immigration and Naturalization Service ruled. Experts are concerned. Children's rights are now insufficiently guaranteed in Dutch immigration law. Children should be given priority in proceedings and there should be a special children's rights test, which takes a close look at the risk of return to the child's development. Should the public interest of migration restriction be secondary to the best interests of the child? How child-friendly is the Dutch asylum policy? Argos outlines the story of Khalaf and the dilemmas and risks in assessing the flight story of underage asylum seekers.
Four Dutchmen were arrested Tuesday morning in The Hague, Leiden and Krimpen aan den IJssel on suspicion of involvement in a larger human smuggling network that was mainly active in France. The Public Prosecution Service said the network has smuggled some 700 people from France to England in refrigerated trucks or boats. The group of suspects is said to have earned about 4 million euros from human smuggling. Two of the detainees are suspected of smuggling migrants to the Netherlands, while the other two are alleged to have facilitated this smuggling.
Underaged asylum seekers in the Netherlands are in any case entitled to shelter, guidance and training. In case of doubt, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) must investigate the age. Sometimes literally to the bone. Upon entry into the Netherlands, an asylum seeker who claims to be a minor and cannot demonstrate this with identity documents must undergo an "age check". Doing these checks, it is especially difficult to estimate the age of young people "between the ages of sixteen and twenty one," says IND employee Irene, who trains her colleagues on this. Read how the Dutch immigration service investigates whether an asylum seeker is a minor.
Current immigration laws can have heartbreaking consequences for children, says Bram van Ojik, Dutch Member of Parliament of GroenLinks in Argos. Minors are now treated the same as adults, which is contrary to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which the Netherlands has signed, but which in practice does not comply with asylum children.
Sajid was 15, and Mustafa was 16 when they set out on a journey into the unknown. They were two boys in a crowd of about 210,000 minors.
Italy has been condemned by the European Court of Human Rights: courts often take children away from migrant women, victims of trafficking, because they are not considered good mothers. The children are then adopted by Italian families.