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UNICEF slams treatment of refugee children in Germany

June 21, 2016

Germany does not extend the same rights to refugee children as it does to native-born children, UNICEF has said. This was worrying for a group in need of special care, the children's organization has warned.

Deutschland Musikstunde mit Flüchtlingskindern und deutschen Kindern in einer Schule in Margetshöchheim
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/D. Karmann

The UN children's organization UNICEF published a report on Tuesday decrying the circumstances of refugee children in Germany. According to the report, refugee children not only have far lower standards of safety, medical treatment and education than their German-born counterparts, but are also treated very differently depending on their prospects for being allowed to stay in Germany.

"Refugee children have often survived horrors and brutal violence. For this reason they need special protection and care," said German UNICEF chief Christian Schneider.

The report accused the German government of negligence in the face of Europe's unprecedented refugee crisis. The organization had already pointed out in 2014, UNICEF said, that the rights of migrant children were not being respected, and the recent influx of refugees has served to make the situation much worse.

Not only do refugee youth lack access to the education afforded to German children, the amount of time they have to stay with their families in unsafe and unsanitary first arrival centers has doubled from the minimum three months to half a year.

This creates a problem for children's integration when they eventually start school in Germany.

UNICEF also took issue with that it called "special facilities" set aside for families with a low chance of remaining in Germany. The children in these facilities may not go to school nor do they receive any other sort of educational opportunity.

The organization called on Berlin to implement refugee children's rights to be in a safe, a hygienic environment with access to learning and the psychological assistance necessary to many young people who have experienced trauma in their country of origin.

es/kms (KNA, epd)

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