IND meets deadline over
26,000 asylum seekers
29 September 2006
AMSTERDAM Almost every asylum seeker who entered the Netherlands prior to April 2001 has been given a definitive assessment on his or her request for a residence permit.
Government sources said on Friday the applications of the last 1,226 asylum seekers have been almost completely processed. The Cabinet will discuss the matter later on Friday.
The asylum seekers are part of the 26,000 refugees who entered the country before immigration legislation was tightened in April 2001.
The Parliament had given Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk until 1 October for the remaining dossiers to be processed. Only a few dozen cases in which more information is necessary still need to be processed.
These asylum seekers are still waiting a decision from the immigration service IND. They are people possibly linked to war crimes or their medical documents are missing. In a few cases, the IND is still waiting for official documentation from the Foreign Ministry.
The initial group of 26,000 has increased over time by 5,600 to a total of 31,600. The increase is due to births, family members who arrived in the country later on and people who were staying in municipal emergency accommodation.
Democrat D66 parliamentary leader Lousewies van der Laan asked Minister Verdonk during general discussions around the budget on Thursday whether all of the dossiers would be processed by 1 October.
When the D66 was still part of the coalition government in June, Van der Laan had suggested that Verdonk should resign if she missed the deadline.
The fate of the 26,000 asylum seekers has received intense attention not only in the Parliament, but beyond The Hague in recent years.
Various groups repeatedly urged the government to grant a generous pardon for asylum seekers who had lived in the Netherlands longer than five years while awaiting a decision on their request for asylum.
Following the lead of the Association of Dutch Municipalities (VNG), the Amsterdam City Council also urged for a generous pardon in a recent letter to Verdonk.
But the Liberal VVD minister told the VNG and Amsterdam that she was not in favour of a more generous amnesty. A one-off, restricted pardon was granted at the time to 2097 people.
Since then, Verdonk has granted a residence permit to about 800 other asylum seekers based on their 'distressing situation'.