Give asylum seekers with delayed procedures more rights, National Ombudsman

Asylum seekers who have to wait a long time for their asylum application process to start must be given better facilities and more privacy, National Ombudsman Reinier van Zutphen said in a letter to State Secretary Ankie Broekers-Knol of Justice and Security, who is responsible for asylum, NOS reports.

Until immigration and naturalization service IND starts processing an asylum application, the asylum seeker in question cannot stay in one of the regular shelters. Instead they are accommodated in temporary reception location with much less facilities and privacy. 

According to Van Zutphen, around 9 thousand asylum seekers are currently waiting in these temporarily locations for their application process to start. Some of them have been waiting for two years. He is very concerned about the uncertainty and unrest this is causing. "For a successful integration, but also for a successful return, it is very important that asylum seekers quickly get clarity about their application," he said in his letter to Broekers-Knol. He called on her to resolve these backlogs.

And while that happens, the asylum seekers waiting in in temporary reception must be given the same facilities as asylum seekers in the regular shelters. This includes being able to cook for themselves, meaningful daily activities they can participate in, a living allowance, and reimbursement for food depending on the family situation. They must also be given more privacy, especially for families. According to him, children are particularly affected by the long stay in the temporary locations.

The IND is facing major backlogs in assessing asylum applications. Last week it became clear that the IND will have to spend 70 million euros on the penalty payments asylum seekers are entitled to if their application takes longer than six months. This is much higher than the 17 million euros Broekers-Knol estimated the penalty payments will cost this year.