Thousands of asylum seekers still waiting for an answer
The Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) still has to process 7,000 overdue asylum applications that should have been processed last year. This became evident in a letter sent to Parliament by State Secretary for Justice and Security Ankie Broekers-Knol.
In March 2020, additional officials were appointed to handle the backlog of over 15,000 applications with the IND. According to the letter, the goal of clearing the system before the turn of the year has definitely not been achieved.
At the end of last year, it became clear that Broekers would not be able to live up to her word. At the time, however, it was not entirely clear yet how many claims would remain overdue by the turn of the year. In the letter from Thursday, January 7, the definite number of outstanding applications was 7,150. Broekers-Knol cites the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown measures as one of the primary reasons for the delay.
This backlog may have wide-reaching consequences for various organizations. In her letter, Broekers-Knol writes that “due to the large number of overdue asylum cases that have been are being handled in a relatively short period of time and the circumstance in which this happens – parallel to the IND process that handles new asylum cases – the activities can have a major impact for the various chain partners.” These partners include the Public Prosecution Service, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and NGOs and nonprofits for refugees.
“Waiting for clarity”
“The aim was to provide clarity to all applicants before the end of 2020. This has partly been successful, but unfortunately, there are still people waiting for clarity,” writes the Minister. The new aim is now to make up for the delay “by mid-2021.”
The pile of outstanding applications was also causing financial havoc. Not only do asylum seekers wait longer than allowed for a definitive answer, but it also means that tens of millions of euros in penalties must be paid to complaining asylum seekers. This rule has now been scrapped, thus stopping the financial pressure.
In the period from April 1 to December 31, 2020, 9,200 new asylum applications and 1,170 repeated claims were submitted. A decision has been made for 45 percent of those applications.