Over 2,700 violent incidents in asylum centers in 2014
2,741 (violent) incidents were recorded in Dutch asylum centers in the first 6 months of last year. These include 13 suicides, 80 suicide attempts, 124 intimidations and threats, 47 assaults, 58 missing people, 23 hunger strikes, 4 self-immolations and 10 suspicions of human trafficking. In the first half of 2014 there were about 12 thousand asylum seekers in Dutch centers, that number has doubled in the meantime.
This is according to figures from the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (Centraal Orgaan opvang Asielzoekers - COA), the Volkskrant reports. This is the first time that the natonal incident figures of asylum seekers comes out. The COA has only be maintaining a comprehensive list for about a year and a half, after the suicide of the Russian asylum seeker Aleksandr Dolmatov in a center in Rotterdam in 2013.
According to the COA, the now released figures are not exact as the staff still needs to get used to the registration method, the Volkskrant reports. The list does however give a good picture about the conditions in the asylum centers. Employees are supposed to record an incident in the system within a day of it happening and a fact-investigation should happen within 5 days. In criminal offenses, employees should notify the police. But according to the Incident Reporting Registry (Rapportage Incidentregistratite), incidents are often recorded late or not at all. This is because people do not have time to record the incident, or don't find the incident important enough, according to the Volkskrant.
"For us recording the incidents are secondary to keeping the personal details of the asylum seekers up to date", COA spokesperson Jan-Willem Anholts said to the Volkskrant. "Previously there was only an Excel file by location, now we link it to our national system. Because there is still uncertainty about the categories among the staff, the figures are not accurate." There are 46 categories on the COA's incident list which range from unacceptable behavior (461 times) to not cleaning their own space (173 times).
According to Refugee Network Netherlands, many incidents are a logical consequence of the situation in which asylum seekers find themselves. "These are people who come from terrible conditions", a spokesperson said to Volkskrant. "They often have to deal with trauma and are uncertain about the asylum procedure. When people resort to such violent actions as self-immolation, that says something about the desperation."
ChristenUnie Parliamentarian Joel Voordewind finds this unacceptable, according to the Volkskrant. "The report also shows that employees doubt the usefulness and necessity of registration, that there is insufficient guidance and attention provided for registration and that there is a risk of arbitrariness." He will confront State Secretary Fred Teeven about this. "I want to know what he has done with this report and what improvements are being made to take this issue seriously. We should be able to expect more urgency from the State Secretary, especially after the Dolmatov debate."