Family of family refugee claim proved false by new IND figures

Dilan Yesilgöz surrounded by reporters. Photo: S Boztas

An average of just 70 people moved to the Netherlands every year as the family member of a family member of a recognised refugee, according to new figures from the immigration service IND.

Justice minister Dilan Yesilgöz claimed on television talk show Op1 last November that “a great many” people came to the Netherlands after a distant relative had successfully applied for asylum and told the Volkskrant in an interview later “thousands” of people were involved.

But in 2022, just 40 “family of family” came to the Netherlands and in 2021, 130 people, the IND figures show.

Divisions about how to cope with the perceived problem led to the collapse of the coalition last summer and the subsequent November 22 general election.

People who successfully apply for asylum are allowed to bring in close family members, such as a partner or children under the age of 18.

Over the past five years, 1040 applications have been made by someone who travelled to the Netherlands as a relative to bring in someone else on compassionate grounds. But only around one quarter of the requests that have been looked at so far have been honoured, the IND said.

Over 38,000 people made a first application for asylum in the Netherlands last year, and some 10,000 close relatives joined people who had been granted official refugee status, according to figures from national statistics agency CBS.

The number of new arrivals is up 8% on 2022, but still well below government estimates, while the number of family members fell 7%. Early last year ministers suggested that more than 76,000 people could apply for asylum in the Netherlands in 2023.

That forecast led to crisis talks and calls for measures to reduce the flow of new arrivals, following chaotic scenes when hundreds of people were forced to sleep outdoors in 2022.

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