Record numbers of asylum seekers are waiting for their claims to be processed even though the number of new applications has barely risen since last year, according to the immigration service IND.
On average asylum seekers wait around 15 months for the IND to reach a decision, compared to 15 weeks in 2015. The backlog has grown from 48,030 to 70,660 in the space of a year, the IND’s figures show.
If the trend continues the accommodation agency will need to find nearly 53,000 emergency beds for asylum seekers in the next 12 months, partly because several existing facilities are closing next year.
The total number of people living in asylum accommodation is projected to increase from 63,000 to 96,000 by the start of 2025.
Carolus Grütters, research fellow at the Centre for Migration Law at Radboud University in Nijmegen, told NOS that the growing waiting list was partly due to the rules becoming more complex.
“The service is having to deal with increasingly complex policy rules and is having to provide more detailed reasoning for its decisions,” he said.
In the first 11 months of the year around 45,000 new asylum claims were received, broadly the same number as a year ago. But in 2015, when waiting times were much shorter, around 60,000 new applications were submitted.
The IND has almost doubled the number of staff processing claims since then, but says the government’s target of processing 22,000 claims a year is unrealistic.
It has also warned it cannot train more than 180 new colleagues a year because there are not enough supervisors.
“In any case it will take years to respond to the current number of applications, even if the IND maximises its efforts to recruit and train new staff members,” a spokesman said.
A budget package for several years would give the service the financial stability it needs, the spokesman added. “It won’t reduce the long waiting lists immediately, but it will help us with our ability to plan for a longer period.”
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