The People's Movement for Asylum-Seeking Children's Future

Asylum-seeking children and youth have the #righttoasafechildhood

Asylum-seeking children, youth, unaccompanied minors, and families in the Danish asylum system invite in collaboration with a large group of Danish organizations everyone to join The People's Movement for Asylum-seeking Children's Future. The focus of the movement is asylum-seeking children's right to a safe upbringing under the slogan #righttoasafechildhood.

There are currently around 2,900 children under the age of 18 living in Danish asylum centers. Some of them live with their families in the so-called accommodation centers while they wait for a decision on their asylum application. Others have arrived alone and are accommodated in specialized children's centers  while they go through the asylum application process. Others still have had their asylum application rejected and have been transferred to the new deportation center Sjælsmark with their family, where they are waiting to be forcibly deported. Common to them all is that they wait months and years feeling insecure and unsafe. A total of 128 children have spent between 4–12 years in the asylum system – some of them their entire lives. The children deserve a better upbringing.

The People's Movement works to:

  • get the Ministry of Immigration and Integration to set a time limit for how long a child or a youth can be an asylum seeker

  • secure the right of all children and youth in the asylum system to live outside the asylum centers and to get access to municipal daycare institutions/primary schools

  • secure that Denmark adheres to the Children's Convention in all matters concerning asylum-seeking children and youth

What's on?

The People's Movement is launched on December 1, 2017 with a series of testimonies on social media, where the children themselves explain about growing up in the Danish asylum system

On December 16 from 3–5 pm, the People's Movement invites everyone to join a torchlight procession from Israels Plads to Rådhuspladsen in Copenhagen, where the children lead.

In spring 2018, the People's Movement will organize a public hearing at the Danish Parliament, where proposals to ensure the children a safe upbringing are presented.

About The People's Movement

The People's Movement for Asylum-seeking Children's Future was founded in September 2017 by a number of organizations in cooperation with asylum-seeking children and parents from the refugee community center Trampoline House.

The movement is a mouthpiece for the children's own voices, perspectives, and wishes.


Life in an asylum center is characterized by uncertainty and worries, which is incompatible with the framework needed to ensure children a safe and dignified childhood. Scientific research indicate that children as well as adults become anxious, stressed, and depressed from the waiting time and the uncertainty, and that long-term stays in the centers without a resolution leads to various permanent disorders.

In short, asylum-seeking children should be entitled to an upbringing that is as normal as possible – and parents in the asylum system should have far better possibilities for upholding their role as caring and guiding parents.

Lawyer and journalist Olav Hergel has since summer 2017 written a series of articles in Politiken about living conditions for rejected asylum seekers in Denmark.

      Do you want to join the People's Movement?

      As an individual you can:

      • ‘like’ the People's Movement's facebook page Folkebevægelsen for asylbørns fremtid and encourage your friends and network to do the same
      • ‘like and share’ the movement's posts and events among friends and network, and ask your friends to do the same
      • volunteer and help us with the SoMe campaign/ torchlight procession/public hearing, or propose additional initiatives/events
      • bring all your friends to the torchlight procession on December 16 and to the hearing in spring 2018
      • send en donation to Trampoline House's MobilePay (+45) 25 78 24 24 with the subject line ‘Folkebevaegelsen’

      As an organization you can:

      • have your name and logo listed in the People's Movement's information material
      • ‘like and share’ the People's Movement's facebook page Folkebevægelsen for asylbørns fremtid and events among the organization's network
      • become a co-organizer of one of the People's Movement's initiatives/events, or propose additional initiatives/events
      • join one of our work groups
      • send en donation to Trampoline House's MobilePay (+45) 25 78 24 24 with the subject line ‘Folkebevaegelsen’

      To join, contact:

      Tone Olaf Nielsen, Children & Women's Program Coordinator in Trampoline House: / (+45) 20 93 50 86

      Kajsa Böttcher Messell, Communication Coordinator in Trampoline House: / (+45) 50 17 46 64

      They have already joined the People's Movement:

      Amnesti Nu
      Asylprojektet MS
      Bedsteforældre for Asyl
      Black Lives Matter Denmark
      CAMP / Center for Art on Migration Politics
      Niels Nymann Eriksen (Parish and immigrant priest)
      Michael Graversen (Film director)
      Made Clear
      Mellemfolkeligt Samvirke
      Refugees Welcome (Michala Clante Bendixen)
      Turning Tables
      Venligboerne København
      Vores Asylbørn
      Welcome to Denmark

      The People's Movement recommends

      The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) has in a recent report criticized Denmark's treatment of asylum-seeking children and have presented a number of recommendations to the Danish state. In general, Denmark should adhere to the Children's Convention in all matters concerning asylum-seeking children. This applies to both residence conditions and to the recognition of children's asylum motives and their connection to Denmark after long periods of stay.

      There are particularly five areas where we can significantly improve the life of asylum-seeking children in Denmark:

      ”I don't want to be an asylum seeker my entire life” > 128 children and youths have spent between 4–12 years in the asylum system – some of them their entire lives. That is a childhood that no child should experience. > Therefore, we recommend that the case processing time for children and their parents is shortened; that the well-being of the child is considered in all asylum assessments; and that children's asylum motives are considered in the asylum procedure. When a child has lived a certain number of years in the asylum system, the connection to Denmark itself should lead to a residence permit.

      We want to stay in the same place” > Unaccompanied minors and families with children are often being moved from asylum center to asylum center. On average, an asylum seeker in Denmark lives in six different centers during the asylum process. The result is an isolated and unsafe existence, where it becomes difficult for children to trust and attach themselves to others. > Asylum-seeking children should, of course, have access to basic safety. Therefore, we recommend that all asylum-seeking families regain the right to private housing outside the asylum centers and access to public kindergartens and schools – and that, until then, an upper limit is set regarding how many times a child may be moved from center to center.

      I want a free childhood” > More and more families are being moved to the deportation center Sjælsmark when the family’s asylum application has been rejected. Here, they face prison-like living conditions: the family doesn't receive any allowance, the children have poor possibilities for participating in leisure activities, and the family have to live from cafeteria food at three fixed hours a day and is not allowed to cook or prepare snacks themselves. All family members live in constant fear of being forcibly deported, and many children are afraid of the uniformed police officers working in the center. These conditions only worsen the children’s well-being even more. > Scientific research has already documented that children get sick living under such conditions. Therefore, we recommend that all transfers of families to the deportation centers are stopped.

      "I miss having a family” > The youngest unaccompanied minors wait for several years for the Danish Immigration Service to consider them mature enough to go through the asylum application procedure. Up until 2010, they were allowed to temporarily stay with a foster family, but now they do not get a temporary residence permit and are forced to live in a children's center while waiting to become mature enough. The Immigration Service calls the children to an interview once a year to assess their maturity. If their asylum case is not decided when they turn 17, they are transferred to an accommodation center for adults, with less attention to this particular vulnerable group. > We recommend that the youngest unaccompanied minors should again be granted a temporary residence permit and be allowed to stay with a foster family until their asylum case is settled. In addition, we recommend that the inaccurate biological age test, which the elder unaccompanied minors go through, is supplemented with a maturity assessment by a children studies professional.

      I want dad and mum here” > Even children, who have residency in Denmark through one parent, are negatively affected if the other parent is not granted asylum or family reunification. > Therefore, we recommend that children are guaranteed the right to live with both of their parents, and that this right should carry considerable weight in all asylum and family reunification applications.

      Read more:

      Michala Bendixen, "En barndom i ingenmandsland", at, October 2, 2017. A thorough review of issues for asylum-seeking children.

      Niels Nymann Eriksen, ”Når asylcentre bliver barndomshjem", in Kristeligt Dagblad, September 26, 2017.

      Olav Hergel, “Mindst 120 børn har levet mellem 4 og 12 år det danske asylsystem", in Politiken, July 9, 2017.

      Olav Hergel, "Afviste asylbørn er dansk politiks kastebolde", in Politiken, July 15, 2017.

      Når børn søger om beskyttelse, compendium published by UNHCR, UNICEF, and Danish Refugee Council in 2016, including a chapter on the child's welfare in the Danish asylum procedure.

      UN Committee on the Rights of the Child's report om Danmarks behandling af asylsøgende børn.

      Katrine Vitus & Signe Smith Nielsen, Asylbørn i Danmark – en barndom i undtagelsestilstand, Copenhagen: Hans Reitzels Forlag, 2011.