The UMs, a group of civil society organizations that stand up for unaccompanied minors, has sent a letter of formal notice to State Secretary for Asylum and Migration Sammy Mahdi (CD&V). The group denounces the appalling shortage of shelters for young people within the existing federal structures and the inappropriate policy.
Some of the eleven signatories to the document are the Platform for Children on the Run, Doctors of the World, Refugee Work Flanders, the Civic Platform and the Order of French-speaking and German-speaking Bars of Belgium.
The organizations point out that the vulnerability criteria, which are described as necessary to gain access to the reception network outside office hours, “exclude a lot of vulnerable young people, causing them to lose their new trust in our system and the field workers”.
In recent months, the number of young people helped by Fedasil has been very high. To ease the pressure, and supported by the corona measures, vulnerability criteria were established that ensured access outside office hours for certain young people. Specifically, this concerns girls, young people with a medical or psychological vulnerability or disability, boys younger than 15 or victims of human trafficking.
Distinguishing between vulnerable and non-vulnerable unaccompanied minors who apply for asylum is contrary to the Reception Act, and also violates the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.
“The minors who do not meet the vulnerability criteria are forced to spend the night on the streets and are therefore exposed to numerous dangers. For example, they can become victims of human trafficking or there is a chance that they end up in another exploitation network.”
The appointment of 40 additional guardians is welcomed by the organizations, but is insufficient, according to the signatories. “This reception crisis requires a structural solution. We demand quality care that is egalitarian and non-discriminatory, and adapted to the specific and real needs of this vulnerable group of minors.”
To achieve this, the group has sent a letter of formal notice to Secretary of State Mahdi. “In our opinion, there is a need for some form of pre-care for this underage target group and every effort must be made to ensure that all UMs who report to the authorities are under the care of the law at any time of the day or night. be taken to the Guardianship Service or receive suitable care.”
The State Secretary now has three days to answer the question and respond publicly. Without action on his part, summary proceedings can be instituted.