Refugees at risk of financial problems in Netherlands: Ombudsman
Refugees have a relatively high chance of ending up in long-term financial problems in the Netherlands, National Ombudsman Reinier van Zutphen said in a report on Monday. These asylum seekers with a residency permit face too complicated systems while often not understanding the Dutch language very well and still struggling to process traumatic events, he said, NU.nl reports.
Moving from an asylum center to a home is already difficult because there is often insufficient guidance. And refugees only receive healthcare and housing benefits after about eight weeks, but bills must be paid immediately. While they often don't have a financial buffer and already have to pay for integration courses, travel, and translation of foreign documents.
All this requires working with many different government bodies. "That creates problems when they don't work well together," Van Zutphen said.
The Ombudsman wants the Netherlands to set up an easily accessible point of contact that can help refugees with their problems, financial and otherwise. "The existing counters are insufficiently known or accessible to this group," he said.
The Civic Integration Act 2021 made municipalities responsible for the integration process of refugees since this year. For the first six months, municipalities are responsible for taking care of refugees' rent, gas, water, electricity, and arranging health insurance. Van Zutphen called this promising but stressed that it doesn't solve all problems. For example, many refugees received their residency permits before this law took effect, so they are not eligible for this help.