Report: Asylum delays to turn refugees into impoverished underclass

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Refugees at the Lebanon-Syria border (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/H. Murdock). (Child asylum seekers (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/H. Murdock))

The long drawn-out asylum procedure before asylum seekers find out whether they qualify for refugee status and a residency permit, put them at a disadvantage and threatens to turn them into an impoverished underclass dominated by unemployment and crime, warn the Justice Ministry's Research and Documentation center, the Social and Cultural Planning Bureau and the Scientific Council for Government Policy, the Volkskrant reports.

The institutions issue this warning based on a joint study into the integration of 33 thousand refugees who arrived in the Netherlands in the 90's. The researchers found that integration is much slower and more difficult for asylum migrants than for other forms of migrants, such as migrant workers.

A large proportion of these refugees faced unemployed on a long term-basis. Five years after their arrival in the Netherlands, only a quarter of them had paid work of more than 30 hours a week. After 15 years, it was 33 percent. Among migrant workers those percentages are 65 and 50 percent respectively.

The crime rate among this group is three times higher than among the native population. It is also higher than among migrant workers. It mainly involves property crimes, such as theft by young, single, unemployed men.

To avoid this happening with the refugees and asylum seekers currently arriving in the Netherlands, intensive language courses and preparation for the labor market should be started in the asylum procedure already, according to the institutions. An asylum seeker's educational level, occupation and work experience should be inventoried when he arrives. And a refugee should be helped to find work as soon as he or she receives a residency permit.

Amsterdam plans to launch a trial run using similar methods in the near future.

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