Record numbers of unaccompanied minors fleeing to Denmark

More and more children and adolescents seeking asylum

Provisional figures from last year show that a record 838 children and adolescents under the age of 18 sought asylum in Denmark last year. One in five of those refugees were under 15-years-old.

Mette Lindegaard, the social coordinator at the Red Cross centre in Jaegerspris said that the situation has created the need for an additional temporary reception centre for children and for additional staff.

“We can feel that the children and young people coming from Syria, who have seen war up close, are very traumatised,” Lindegaard told Berlingske.

Lost in the system
Asylum cases concerning unaccompanied minor refugees are generally treated the same as adults, although the intent is that they are handled quickly. The youngsters live in special centres and are assigned an adult to help them. 

If authorities assess that a young asylum seeker is not mature enough to go through an asylum case, they can be allowed to stay until they turn 18. They can also stay if it is deemed that they face real danger if they are deported back to their home country.

READ MORE: Highest number of asylum seekers in over a decade

Rights being violated
Mimi Jakobsen, the secretary general of Red Barnet, believes that Denmark’s handling of unaccompanied minor asylum seekers is in violation of international statutes protecting the rights of children. 

“This is a huge mental strain,” Jakobsen told Berlingske. “Should they learn Danish, educate themselves, create relationships in Denmark?” 

Jakobsen said that the insecurity and uncertainty of their situation was "completely devastating and destructive for a child”.