Junior minister scraps family reunification ban for young refugees

Refugee children on the Syrian border.

Refugee children on the Syrian border.Caretaker junior justice minister Ankie Broekers-Knol no longer plans to take away young refugees’ rights to unite with their parents if they are looked after by a family member.

Some hundreds of children would have been affected by the measure, which came into effect in November, prompting a number of appeals, the NRC reported on Monday.

Broekers-Knol said the new rule – ‘a simple correction’ of immigration policy – would prevent parents sending their children ahead to secure asylum for themselves. But following angry reactions from MPs who, reportedly, had not been been informed of the change, the rule has now been abandoned.

In a briefing to MPs on Tuesday, the junior minister said that on Monday, the day the NRC published its article on the matter, she had received the results of an inventory conducted with Nidos, the organisation charged with the custody of unaccompanied minors.

The document showed that the handling of the cases was much more complicated than previously thought and that cases were too diverse to be brought under a generic rule and instead merited ‘a much more individual approach,’ the departing junior minister said. ‘Only in cases where a minor is very clearly not alone will family reunification be rejected,’ the junior minister wrote.

The matter comes after a long series of controversial decisions by Broekers–Knol and her future may be in doubt, newspaper Trouw said.

The paper specifically referred to her most recent clash with MPs over restrictions she wanted to impose on granting asylum to all Afghans who had worked with the Dutch during the military mission. That too ended in a climb down for the junior minister.

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