Christian MP calls for end to slow, callous asylum procedures

King Willem-Alexander at an asylum center
King Willem-Alexander on visit to the asylum center in Ter Apel, 19 Jan 2016 (Photo: @koninklijkhuis/Twitter)Photo: Rotapool / Robin van Lonkhuijsen via RVD, @koninklijkhuis / Twitter)

ChristenUnie parliamentarian Joel Voordewind is calling for an end to the slow asylum procedure, that is leading to frustration, protests and even suicide in the emergency asylum shelters, AD reports. 

The very large number of asylum seekers that arrived in the Netherlands over the past year resulted in a backlog at the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND). The backlog lies particularly in the control phase, where asylum seekers papers and documents are checked for forgery and the IND determines that the asylums seeker comes from where he says he does. Last year the government gave the IND an extra 50 million euros to deal with the backlog.

The backlog resulted in ever increasing-waiting times before an asylum seeker's asylum procedure even begins, leading to frustration, anxiety and uncertainty among the asylum seekers waiting in emergency shelters.

Over the weekend 30-year-old Iraqi asylum seeker Hussein Ali Abdel Amer committed suicide in the Alphen aan den Rijn shelter. The man heard that his asylum procedure would take even longer than he was first told and was desperate to return to his family in Baghdad, but was unable to get his passport back. He lost hope when he spoke to his wife and she told him how much she and their children are struggling. He hung himself while on the phone with her.

On Wednesday a Syrian asylum seeker set himself on fire in the Zaandam asylum shelter, shouting that he wants to see his children, still stuck in Turkey. His life was saved by fellow asylum seekers in the shelter.

Voordewind acknowledges that the IND is struggling with capacity problems and a mountain of work. "That problem led to the delay in the procedure. This needs to be resolved. The service received 50 million euros for this task, but we see no results", he said to newspaper AD. The parliamentarian visited the Alphen aan den Rijn shelter after Amer committed suicide and saw the suffering for himself. He believes that a lack of information plays a big part in this. "The asylum seekers are desperate to know where they stand. It is the IND's task to provide them with information."

The D66, SP and PvdA also stated that the asylum procedure is taking too long.

The Inspectorate for Security and Justice is investigating the long waits and the asylum procedure following Amer's suicide. The investigation was explicitly requested by the ChristenUnie.