Refugee numbers reach nearly 25,000 last year as borders reopen

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

Almost 25,000 people made a first application for asylum in the Netherlands last year, the highest number since 2015 when 43,000 people applied, national statistics office CBS said on Monday.

In total, 24,740 people applied for official refugee status, up 80% on 2020 when international travel was largely halted by the coronavirus pandemic.

In addition, just over 10,000 people came to the Netherlands to join close family members who had already been given leave to stay.

One in three refugees came from Syria, followed by Afghans – largely in the second half of the year – and Turks. Almost two-thirds of the family members arriving to join a close relative with refugee status were from Syria.

Housing crisis

The increase in the number of refugees, and the shortage of housing in the Netherlands, has led to an accommodation crisis for new arrivals.

Refugees are now being put up in converted sports halls, boats and other emergency accommodation because of the problems.

Some 35,000 people are now living in refugee centres, of whom around 11,000 have been granted residency permits but who have been unable to find a permanent home.

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