Junior justice minister Klaas Dijkhoff has taken another step in discouraging asylum seekers from coming to the Netherlands, this time warning them in a letter that they may have to pay towards their keep.
The aim of the letter is to give refugees a ‘realistic picture’ of what they can expect, such as ‘a long wait for procedures to start, the austere facilities and the contribution towards the costs’.
‘If you have your own capital or income you are obliged to report this,’ the letter states. ‘It is possible you will be required to make a contribution to the costs of your reception (and that of your family).’
Earlier this year it emerged that the Dutch government has claimed more than €700,000 from asylum seekers in the last four years in contributions towards their living costs. The cash was collected by the refugee settlement agency COA under a regulation that has been in force since 2008.
The regulation allows the state to charge asylum seekers for their food and living costs – €196 a month – if they earn more than €185 a week.
Deductions are also made from any savings or possessions they have above a threshold of €5,895 for a single person and €11,790 for a family. Exceptions are made for personal items such as watches, wedding rings and mobile phones, the regulation shows.
The new letter, which is available in several languages, goes on to warn asylum seekers that they will have to wait seven months for an initial assessment and then up to 18 months for a final ruling. They may also have to live in temporary accommodation with ‘limited amenities’, the letter states.
The first letter sent to refugees by Dijkhoff in October did not mention paying a fee for their keep.
Earlier this week, the national statistics office CBS said just over 3,300 asylum seekers were registered in January 2016. This is about a quarter of the peak last October, when just over 11,700 people arrived in the country.
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