Minister “made up” figures about refugee relatives: Trouw

Photo: RVD – Valerie Kuypers and Martijn Beekman

Justice minister Dilan Yesilgöz based her claim that thousands of people were moving to the Netherlands as family members of family members of refugees on general information rather than specific facts, according to her answers to MPs questions which were published on Wednesday.

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.

The claim eventually led to the collapse of the previous government, after ministers were divided on how to cope with the flow of people, whom Yesilgöz said were abusing the system. 

But now it appears the minister “made up the figure” and did not have access to any information that substantiated her claim, Trouw reported on Thursday.

“I concluded that follow-on after follow-on was a problem based on general figures about family reunions plus told figures from the IND,” Yesilgöz said. 

It was not until this February that the immigration service IND said an average of just 70 people moved to the Netherlands every year as the family member of a family member of a recognised refugee, a fact acknowledged by the minister in her answers. 

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.

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