The AZC (Asylum Seeker’s Centre) in Burgum is home to asylum seekers of all ages; but many children feel they are ‘just a number’
Translated by Thomas Ansell
Waking up feeling anxious, and feeling the same when heading to bed. Almost all the children at the AZC in Burgum suffer from fear; the fear that they could at any moment be plucked from safety by the police, and sent back to ‘their own land’. This is just one of the underlying themes from children’s stories collected by Yaroslava Tymts, and Mohreel Zaky, who themselves also live at the AZC.
As featured by the Omrop Fryslân.
Some were able to put the fear aside over the last few weeks: with strong regulations taken against the Coronavirus meaning that deportation was impossible. But now, as fear of the virus recedes, the fear of the IND returns.
Tymts and Zaky want to make it abundantly clear that the IND (Immigration and Naturalisation Service), must improve its approach to children, and understand what the constant anxiety and fear can do to children living in the AZC.
“It’s clear to us that the children that are waiting here are actually fully integrated into the Netherlands. They feel Dutch, and have their home here”, says Tymts. “They have already achieved a lot here, but will still be deported without a look-in from, for example, the IND.”
Zaky feels the same: “We didn’t make the choice to come to the Netherlands. That was our parents. But now that we live here, and go to school here we are actually fully integrated into Dutch society. I might have to go back to Egypt. But the language is an issue for me: I can’t read it.”
“For most kids, the Netherlands is a land of freedom, but not for us. Not for children in the asylum seekers centre”, says Zaky. This means nothing but stress: “there’s a 7 year old child here that has to take medication for stress, in order to stay calm, and in order to sleep. Don’t you think that’s crazy?”
And still no-one listens to the children: “I’m thankful for my place here, and that we’re safe. I do also feel that we’re just a number to the IND. We’re numbers, not people.”