More refugee children arriving in Denmark

Children of refugees in Denmark arrive traumatised and in need of support

Denmark has seen a large influx of refugees lately, with numbers tripling in the last two years alone.

A new study, conducted by KL’s Momentum for the Immigration Ministry, has now revealed just how many of those refugees consist of children under the age of 18.

Remarkable development
KL reported in the first half of 2015 that 44 percent of all the processed asylum applications were for children – a total of 3,383.

This is a large increase from 2013, during which only 29 percent of all refugees in Denmark were under the age of 18, and also from 2014, where they accounted for 31 percent.

Karen Marie Nielsen, who deals with integration-related matters at Hedensted Municipality, is concerned about Denmark’s ability to provide these children with the fresh start they deserve.

“Several of the children come to us traumatised because of their own experiences,” she said.

“Some are far more traumatised than their parents. So we have a large and important task to find and help the children who need extra support.”

Culture shock
Ask Elklit, a professor of clinical psychology at the University of Southern Denmark, has conducted a number of studies of traumatised refugees at his centre and agrees the road ahead is a hard one – both for Denmark and the children coming here to live better, safer lives.

“Many of the children have experienced terrible things, both in their countries and to escape them, and therefore they have some trauma to be processed,” he said.

“This trauma, if it isn’t resolved, can lead to difficulties with education and general performance. In addition, many of these children get a bit of a culture shock when they need to learn to adapt to a new society in which people do things differently to what they’re used to.”