Unicef: Denmark ‘could do better’ in treatment of child refugees

Unicef: Denmark 'could do better' in treatment of child refugees
File photo: Bax Lindhardt/Ritzau Scanpix
Although Denmark generally treats minor-aged asylum seekers well, improvements can be made, says NGO Unicef.

International standards are on occasions not met by Denmark’s processes for dealing with young asylum seekers, according to a report by the international charity.

The report looks into management of child refugees in all of the Nordic countries.

A particular area of concern is the way in which Denmark assesses the age of asylum seekers, Unicef Denmark general secretary Steen Andersen said.

“We are not good enough – none of the Nordic countries are – at ascertaining whether asylum seekers are under or over 18 years old.

“In those cases, we believe the child should be given the benefit of the doubt,” Andersen said.

Age is crucial in determining access to things like the school system and health service, the Unicef Denmark leader said.

Concerns are also raised in the report that minor-aged asylum seekers are not listened to in family cases that affect them – a practise that is otherwise standard in Denmark.

The report also recommends Denmark look into ways in which children given asylum can be introduced into the regular school system more quickly, and that they should be given the same access to services as Danish children.

Andersen said that it was difficult to determine the exact extent to which Denmark was falling short of its international commitments in the area.

“We can say that we have found cases in which our guidelines are unclear, thereby causing problems,” he said.

120,000 children have applied for asylum in the Nordic countries since 2015. 10,000 of these applications were in Denmark.


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