Report: Netherlands predicts 94,000 new asylum seekers in 2016

Government agencies in the Netherlands are working on the expectation that nearly 100 thousand new asylum seekers will arrive in the country this year, despite Prime Minister Mark Rutte's insistence that at most 58 thousand asylum seekers are expected in 2016, NRC reports based on their own research.

In January Nieuwsuur reported that the government ignored an official forecast stating that 93,600 asylum seekers will arrive in the Netherlands this year. In a parliamentary debate on the matter on February 11th, Rutte stated that the high forecast was outdated and did not take into account new national and international plans to reduce the asylum influx. For that reason the government is working with the estimation that 58 thousand asylum seekers will arrive in 2016, adding that this number is "of course still on the high side."

But according to NRC, this does not seem to be the case. On the same day of the debate the so-called National Table for the Increased Asylum Influx was meeting at the Ministry of Home Affairs. During this meeting it was stated that all authorities involved are working based on the 93,600 expectation. According to the minutes of the meeting, the Director-General of Migration Affairs repeatedly stressed that the agreements with provinces and municipalities on the reception of asylum seekers - called the Administrative Agreement - "are based on 94 thousand".

The Provinces are also working with this high estimate, according to a report Jacques Tichelaar, the Drenthe commissioner of the King, sent to his colleagues. He was at the meeting on behalf of the provinces. "The expected inflow is therefore still 93 thousand asylum seekers", he wrote. "This is also included in the administrative agreement."

The Ministry of Security and Justice is also working on the high number, according to a confidential internal document from January. Though two days later, State Secretary Klaas Dijkhoff still told the Tweede Kamer, lower house of parliament, that the "organizations within the immigration process and the government are preparing for an influx of 58 thousand." He did add that other scenarios are also being looked at.