Almost 30,000 asylum seekers are waiting to have their cases assessed by the immigration service IND, according to August figures from European statistics agency Eurostat.
In total, 29,460 people are on the waiting list for review, just 180 down on the highest ever figure, recorded in the summer of 2015 when 10,000 people a month were applying for refugee status.
Currently around 4,000 people a month are seeking asylum in the Netherlands, including family members travelling to join someone who is already here.
A spokesman for refugee charity Vluchtelingenwerk Nederland described the backlog of cases as a ‘time bomb’.
‘The longer refugees have to wait for their procedure, the more places are needed in refugee centres,’ spokesman Martijn van der Linden told broadcaster NOS. ‘The fact that the backlog is reaching a new record at the same time as the centres are overflowing is a crisis on top of a crisis.’
The IND told NOS waiting lists have grown because the number of refugees is ‘more than we are set up to deal with’. Most of the current asylum seekers come from Afghanistan, Syria, Turkey and Yemen.
The agency is supposed to take a decision within six months of a request for asylum status being made, but is only reaching that target in around one-third of cases. The government is planning to bump the period up to 15 months, NOS said.
The COA currently has capacity to provide accommodation for just over 45,000 people, and says it has a shortfall of 2,600 beds. This figure, however, is expected to rise to almost 10,000 next year.
Asylum seekers who are granted refugee status should move into regular housing, but the shortage of homes means over 17,600 are still living in official refugee centres.
Vluchtelingenwerk has taken the Dutch state to court in an effort to force the government to improve conditions at asylum seekers’ centres. The agency is demanding officials bring accommodation up to European standards by October 1, claiming that the care of refugees in the Netherlands ‘has dropped below the humanitarian minimum’.
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