Asylum applications increase in Netherlands
There were almost as many requests for asylum in the first half of 2008 as there were during the whole of 2007.
The Christian Democrats and the conservative VVD are alarmed by the increase in the number of applications for asylum in the Netherlands in the first six months of this year. There were almost as many requests for asylum in the first half of this year as there were during the whole of 2007, representing a 43 percent increase. Meanwhile in the rest of Europe the number of asylum applications actually fell by 3 per cent. Today the government announced a budget increase of 50 million euros to cope with the extra numbers.
The Christian Democrats put the increase down to the tightening of asylum procedures in other European countries such as Sweden. CDA MP Sybrand van Haersma Buma suggests that the Netherlands should therefore consider taking similar measures. However, Green Left MP Kees Vendrik points out that historically the total number of asylum seekers is still relatively low.
The VVD and right-wing Freedom Party accuse justice minister and Labour Party politician Nebahat Albayrak of "allowing the flow of asylum seekers to get completely out of hand again". They oppose government policy enabling virtually automatic admission for asylum seekers from Iraq and Somalia. They also see a link between the increase and the general amnesty for former asylum seekers introduced in mid-2007.
Figures released today show that up to the end of June this year, 26,000 asylum seekers were granted a residence permit as a result of the amnesty. The largest group to take advantage of the scheme come from the former Soviet Union and the former Yugoslavia.
1 September 2008
By Michael Blass