Asylum application backlog greater than reported to parliament: Volkskrant

Refugees protesting about the delays in processing their claims. Photo: Refugee demonstration team
Refugees protesting about the delays in processing their claims. Photo: Refugee demonstration team

An asylum applications backlog at immigration service IND is even bigger than previously reported to parliament by acting junior immigration minister Ankie Broekers-Knol, according to correspondence between IND staffers seen by the Volkskrant.

A special IND taskforce is currently working to process some 7,000 cases out of a total of over 15,000 which were pushed into 2021 after a deadline was missed. It has emerged, however, that an additional 1,030 applications are being handled by the IND itself, the paper said.

Exchanges between IND staff suggest that repeat applications are not part of the new taskforce’s brief, although the justice department had said it would deal with all applications made before April 1 2020.

MPs and asylum lawyers have suggested that the existence of this separate stream of applications might mean information has held back to massage the figures.

The backlog initially cost millions of euros in compensation to asylum seekers whose cases were not processed within the required period. Broekers-Knol has now scrapped those payments.

‘Slipped throught the net’

The IND said in a reaction that the 1,030 extra applications, all made before April 1 2020, are repeat applications which had been turned down but were made again because of changes in circumstances. Of these, 600 have now been processed, a spokesman told the paper.

‘This is increasing the confusion for immigrants about which service is handling their case. Some people have been waiting for almost three years,’ Jelle Goezinnen of the SNDVU organisation for undocumented refugees told the paper. ‘Communication about cases by the taskforce is frankly bad. It’s chaos and it’s causing a lot of suffering.’

GroenLinks MP Bram van Ojik, who tabled a motion to force the government to get rid of the backlog before July 1 this year, said the impression had been given that the taskforce would free up the IND for its regular work. ‘We don’t want new backlogs to occur,’ he said.

Broekers-Knol is expected to brief MPs again on the taskforce’s progress this week.

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