More asylum seekers to stay
7 March 2005, AMSTERDAM — A large percentage of the 26,000 asylum seekers earmarked for deportation under the Dutch government's tough amnesty policy will probably be allowed to stay, the Dutch Refugee Council has revealed. Up until mid-February, the immigration service IND had processed 8,636 cases and in 41 percent of these, the IND recommended that the asylum seekers be allowed to stay in the country.
7 March 2005
AMSTERDAM — A large percentage of the 26,000 asylum seekers earmarked for deportation under the Dutch government's tough amnesty policy will probably be allowed to stay, the Dutch Refugee Council has revealed.
Up until mid-February, the immigration service IND had processed 8,636 cases and in 41 percent of these, the IND recommended that the asylum seekers be allowed to stay in the country.
In its report "No amnesty, but deportation?" the refugee council also said that some 16,000 to 17,000 dossiers are yet to be assessed, newspaper NRC reported on Saturday.
"Our evaluation shows that a lot of misery could have been prevented if the Lower House [of Parliament] had opted for a more expansive amnesty lat year,” council director Eduard Nazarski said.
The Association of Dutch Municipalities (VNG), religious and refugee organisations had demanded at the time that asylum seekers who had been in the Netherlands longer than five years waiting for their asylum request to be processed should be granted a residence permit. That amounted to 6,300 people.
But Immigration and Integration Minister Rita Verdonk opted for a more restrictive amnesty, deciding to issue a residence permit to just 2,200 asylum seekers. The remaining asylum seekers were to undergo an assessment and any rejected refugees would be forced to leave the country.
The estimated 26,000 deportations were to be spread across three years and was the focus of sharp criticism, both domestically and internationally. It was described as the biggest deportation in Europe since World War II.
The asylum seekers had entered the country prior to the introduction of tougher immigration laws in April 2001, which have since led to a radical fall in the number of new requests for asylum.
The expulsions were designed to clear a backlog in cases from the inundated IND, but many communities questioned why asylum seekers who had lived and worked in their midst for several years and raised their children here would be forced to leave.
A protest in The Hague — highlighted by an Iranian asylum seeker who had sewed his eyes and mouth shut in protest — failed to prevent the amnesty legislation being enacted by MPs in February last year.
Since then, 13 people have been expelled from the Netherlands via the special expulsion centre in Ter Appel in the province of Groningen. A further 1,511 left the country voluntarily, 997 of whom availed of an extra departure fund set up to stimulate their return.
A further 519 were placed on planes by immigration officers either by force or under special supervision.
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Dutch news