Over 300 asylum seekers tried suicide; 55 sex abuse cases in 2015

Oisterwijk Asylum Center
The asylum reception center in Oisterwijk, Noord-Brabant (photo: COA) The asylum reception center in Oisterwijk, Noord-Brabant (photo: COA)

Some 312 asylum seekers in the Netherlands tried to take their own lives last year, according to figures released by the COA, the agency tasked with handling the reception of those seeking refuge. Another 369 also reportedly attempted “self-destructive actions” like self-mutilation or hunger strikes, the police department reported.

There were also 55 reported cases of sexual abuse, primarily where both the victims and suspects were residents of a reception center. One case involved a Dutch man accused of attempted abuse of a child refugee, and another case suggested that a man, possibly an asylum seeker, attempted to assault a Dutch woman.

An additional 34 cases had a possible connection to either human trafficking or smuggling, the police stated.

The figures released Saturday by Security and Justice Secretary Klaas Dijkhoff. “I want to be transparent; everyone can see them,” he wrote, in reference to the data. “I will not make comparisons between other locations or groups. To do this, by definition, is wrong,” he added.

The total statistics show that a total of roughly 8,000 official incidents were reported at asylum centers in 2015 of which about 63 percent, or just over 5,000, were for rules infractions, like covering up spoke detectors or noise complaints.

About 2,400 cases involved some form of aggression, COA staff claimed. In 1,366 incidents, physical attacks were alleged that ranged widely from minor to severe, asylum workers said. A further 759 were cases of verbal abuse or threats, and another 269 included allegations of non-verbal aggressive behaviour, the police said.

Police figures show they registered 377 of these cases involving violence at asylum centers out of a total 4,460 times that officers were told to report to the facilities. Officers became involved in all sorts of cases, including lost IDs, theft, public nuisance, drug use, fighting and human trafficking, the police said in a separate statement.