Refugee family reunification still a grueling process

The family reunification process for asylum seekers' family members who were left behind in dangerous countries is too slow, according to VluchtelingenWerk Nederland and the refugee families.

The Tweede Kamer, lower house of parliament, is discussing the family reunification policies with State Secretary Klaas Dijkhoff on Thursday, Het Parool reports. Two weeks ago Dijkhoff announced that the regulations would be eased. And in January his predecessor, Fred Teeven, told the Kamer that he wanted to do something about the "precarious situation" of "single, unmarried girls who were left behind". But the families wonder why this is still taking so long.

VluchtelingenWerk is calling for greater speed in the reunification procedures. "Waiting times at embassies are very long. More staff needs to be put on this, so that people can can be reunited with their loved ones faster.", a spokesperson told the newspaper.

Lawyer Jaap de Ruijter de Wildt is representing a Syrian family who is waiting for permission for their 21 year old daughter to come to the Netherlands. Marah Ijbara had to be left behind in the Syrian city of Idlib when her family fled to the Netherlands in the summer of 2013. Her father and brother came first, and soon after they got residency permits, they were able to bring her mother and two younger sisters, aged 11 and 9, to the Netherlands. But Marah could not come along, because she did not meet the requirements - she is an adult and there is no "more than an emotional connection" with the rest of the family, Het Parool reports.

After the rules has been eased, Marah should be able to join her family in the Netherlands. The IND now has to make a new decision on her the reunification request. De Ruijter de Wildt is positive that the request will be approved, but the process is taking very long.  "Every day that Marah is in Syria, she runs a great risk." the lawyer said to the newspaper, explaining how Marah had to flee Ildib after the city fell into the hands of Al-Qaeda and how there are bombings on a regular basis. Once the IND approves Marah's request, she has to make a long journey to the Dutch embassy in Ankara to get the right papers. "For a young woman in Syria that is a dangerous trip", according to the lawyer. "The IND must hurry, and the Dutch government should help her with this dangerous journey."