NOS Nieuws•vandaag, 00:00
Last year, more than 35,500 people in the Netherlands submitted their first asylum application. That is 44 percent more than in 2021 and the highest number since 2015. Syrians again formed the largest group of asylum seekers, the Central Bureau of Statistics reports based on figures from the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND).
Most asylum applications came in the summer months, with a peak in September. After that, the number decreased again.
More than 12,600 asylum seekers, more than a third, have Syrian nationality. In 2021 there were still 8380. The number of Syrians applying for asylum here was lower last year than at the previous peak in 2015; then there were 18,700.
Afghans (2730) and Turks (2685) were the largest groups of asylum seekers after Syrians last year. The number of Afghans seeking asylum fell by 9 percent; the number of Turkish applications increased by 9 percent compared to 2021.
Ukrainians and Russians
In addition to asylum seekers, there were also about 87,000 displaced persons from Ukraine registered in the Netherlands at the end of December 2022. Ukrainians who have fled the war do not have to formally apply for asylum in the Netherlands, because they fall under the European Temporary Protection Directive. This arrangement is still in force until 4 March 2024, with the option of extending it for another year.
Since the war broke out in Ukraine at the end of February, there has been a sharp rise in the number of asylum applications from Ukrainians and Russians. 1060 people of Ukrainian nationality applied for asylum, against 70 in 2021. This mainly concerns people who do not receive protection under the European directive. At 590, the number of Russians is almost three times as high as a year earlier.
Emergency shelter for refugees at an event site in Biddinghuizen (photo from October 2022)
Statistics Netherlands also reports that 10,925 following family members came to the Netherlands last year, about 800 more than a year earlier. Following family members are family members of people who have been granted asylum.
Last year, it mainly concerned people with Syrian (7240) and Turkish (1095) nationalities. There was a decrease among the number of family members traveling from Eritrea and Yemen.
State Secretary Van der Burg wanted to temporarily limit the influx of asylum seekers by postponing family reunification. Family members of status holders – asylum seekers who have received a residence permit – were only allowed to come to the Netherlands six months after the family reunification was approved. They were only allowed to come earlier if their family member had previously received a home in the Netherlands.
According to administrative courts, this measure was in violation of international treaties. The case is now on appeal before the Council of State, the highest administrative court, which is expected to rule in mid-February. In the meantime, the measure has been suspended and applications for family reunification will be processed as usual.
Too few shelters
Van der Burg wanted to limit the influx because of the shortage of reception places and staff at the IND and the Central Agency for Asylum Reception (COA). Calculations by Nieuwsuur show that there is a threat of a shortage of 38,000 reception places this spring. This is because more people are applying for asylum, but also because after the previous crisis, cutbacks were made too quickly in reception places and staff.
Due to a shortage of places in normal asylum seekers’ centres, the COA had to arrange a lot of emergency accommodation last year. Municipalities also had to provide crisis emergency shelter at all times. Almost half of all asylum seekers are now staying in such a temporary (crisis) emergency shelter.
A large number of contracts for shelters will expire next spring. For example, the emergency shelter on the festival site in Biddinghuizen has to make way for festivals such as Defqon1 and Lowlands.
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