Dutch to pay African nations to take back refugees

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Asylum seekers being evicted from the Vluchtgarage, a squatted building in Amsterdam (Picture: Twitter/@BusserAnnemarie)Asylum seekers being evicted from the Vluchtgarage, a squatted building in Amsterdam (Picture: Twitter/@BusserAnnemarie)

The Dutch government plans to make additional investments in refugees' home countries to help these countries take back their refugees. This only applies to nations who assist in the sustainable return of their citizens.The government wants to help refugees return to their home countries by working on creating as much shelter as possible in these regions as well as committing more money to North African Search and Rescue missions.

The money for these investments will come from the Development Cooperation budget. This is according to a letter sent to the Tweede Kamer, lower house of parliament, by State Secretary Klaas Dijkhoff of Security and Justice, which explains the terms of the asylum deal made by the coalition on Wednesday. The letter was also signed by Minister Bert Koenders of Foreign Affairs and Minister Lodewijk Asscher of Social Affairs. This plan will initially cost 30 million euros, but this amount will increase in the future.

In the current system an asylum seeker is granted shelter during the course of the asylum process. If a residency permit is granted, the municipality finds the asylum seeker a home. If asylum is denied, the asylum seeker is granted a period to work on returning home. If the asylum seeker is still in the country after this period, he can find further shelter in a restricted freedom of movement location (VBL) to further work on his departure, provided that he does so. If this is not the case the asylum seeker is denied shelter in the VBL and the government sees if forced departure is possible. If forced departure proves to be impossible and the asylum seeker is unwilling to cooperate in voluntary departure, he is put out on the street.

"Under the current system a foreigner can only get access to the VBL if he has previously indicated that he is willing to cooperate with departure. The cabinet has decided to adjust this condition by adding another phase." Dijkhoff writes.

There will now be six locations for failed asylum seekers which are Amsterdam, Eindhoven, The Hague, Utrecht, Rotterdam and Ter Apel. Ter Apel will function as a gateway for failed asylum seekers to return home. Failed asylum seekers sent to the other five centers will get about 12 weeks there in different phases.

During the first phase the failed asylum seeker will be given information about the society and time to learn about the community. Phase two is about social work. The refugee will be talked to about the realities of returning home. In phase three the refugee will be assessed to establish whether he is sincere and realistic about returning home voluntarily. If the asylum seeker is not sincere, he will be removed from the process and put out on the street. All refugees will be registered so that they cannot repeatedly enter different facilities once they have been removed from the process or if they have left the Netherlands and then came back.

If the asylum seeker is sincere about returning home voluntarily, he will be transferred to the VBL in Ter Apel to work on his return. Refugees who are sincere about returning home, but find it impossible to do so after a lengthy, but unspecified, period of time, may be granted a residency permit.

The government and municipalities will work together to provide care for the facilities. The government will give more funding to specific facilities if they are more successful at convincing refugees to return home voluntarily. Municipalities that discover an undocumented person can refer them to one of these facilities.

"With these improvements in our system of return, there is no more need for municipalities to provide, and finance, structural relief." The ministers write. All other facilities for undocumented immigrants will have to close, provided that the Council of State does not rule otherwise in the May 11th hearing. In this hearing the Council of State will handle a number of procedures focusing on whether the Netherlands has to meet more extensive requirements than those currently laid down in the policy. The cabinet will follow any recommendations made by the Council of State in this ruling. This could mean providing more care or services to the failed asylum seekers.

The outcome of this plan will be determined based on the percentage of failed asylum seekers and undocumented immigrants who return home voluntarily.

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