MPs oppose refugee evictions
12 December 2003
AMSTERDAM — As conflict over the nation’s long-term asylum seekers continued, a small majority of MPs stood opposed on Thursday to the planned eviction of rejected refugees from special holding centres before the end of the year.
Government coalition party Democrat D66 and all opposition parties have also said that Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk should first give a definite answer over the fate of asylum seekers who do not qualify for the government-offered amnesty.
Labour PvdA, D66, green-left GroenLinks, the populist LPF and the ChristenUnie are concerned that the temporary shelter offered to hundreds, even thousands of asylum seekers, will be closed before the end of this year.
The government approved earlier this year an amnesty granting asylum seekers a residence permit. It is aimed at those who have been in the country for five years or longer, but are still waiting for a decision on their asylum request. About 2,000 refugees will be notified before the end of December 2003 that they will be allowed to stay.
The pardon procedure was introduced to clear the backlog of refugee asylum applications, but Verdonk has indicated that only a limited number of the thousands of pardon applicants meet the criteria. Widespread community opposition to evictions and eventual deportations has been expressed.
A large number of the rejected asylum seekers have lived and worked in the Netherlands for many years, and in some cases their young children do not speak the native language of their country of origin.
Many municipal authorities have since said they will not evict asylum seekers who were not offered amnesty. The councils said they have an obligation to care for the refugees and must ensure they do not end up on the street.
Despite understanding the reasons for their objections, Verdonk also said municipal councils must co-operate with the deportations. “We have a constitutional state, we have laws and they must also be carried out by municipalities,” she said.
The Liberal VVD minister threatened if the municipalities did not evict the refugees from the special holding centres, she would consider calling in the government to carry out the task.
Verdonk also said municipalities were giving a wrong signal if they continued offering accommodation to asylum seekers. This would result more refugees failing to co-operate with their deportation.
She also strongly denied rumours that large numbers of asylum seekers would be evicted from the holding centres, but refused to give a definite figure.
The exact number will be confirmed in January, when the minister reveals a finalised plan for the deportation of refugees who did not obtain an amnesty to stay.
[Copyright Expatica News 2003]
Subject: Dutch news + asylum seekers