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According to asylum policy, the families that live in the family locations are ‘deportable’. It does not matter if families are still have ongoing procedures (for example at the Council of State or the European Court) or if families are factually not deportable, for example because one of the family members is stateless. Each week multiple families are forcibly deported. This always starts with a policeraid at a family location, after which the family is transported to Camp Zeist.
Around six o’clock in the morning, a team of foreign police enters one of the rooms at a family location. The refugees have five minutes to pack all their stuff. Many refugees don’t dare to sleep in pyjamas anymore, because there is not enough time to put on clothes. Time to say goodbye to playmates is not given.
Violence is regularly used at these raids, even when small children are involved. There are testimonies of pushing, beating, dragging, and even of the use of police dogs and electric stun weapons. In 2013 the then 15 year old M was mistreated to such a degree that his head was black and blue. Sometimes children are separated from their parents during transport to Camp Zeist.
The reason that foreign police does these raids in the morning and with such haste is to make sure they don’t get too much attention. The family locations are full of cameras, but the images are not released. Refugees who film the raids themselves using their mobile phones are forced to remove the footage.
In the family location in Emmen two protests have been organized recently by refugees themselves. In the days that followed the refugees received threatening letters and were intimidated during conversations with the DT&V where they were ‘advised’ not to participate in demonstrations anymore.
Empty chair in the classroom
Refugee children who live in family locations go to Dutch schools and have Dutch friends at school. But these children can be removed from their trusted environment at any moment: By one of the many relocations, or by a police raid followed by arrest. Children see their peers disappear, don’t dare to form friendships, don’t get enough sleep or get panic attacks when they see a police car.