Some 26,000 asylum seekers in the Netherlands are currently waiting to have their claims processed, and that is more than the previous peak of 20,000 two years ago, when the government set up a special task force to tackle the backlog, broadcaster NOS said on Tuesday.
The task force managed to reduce the waiting list to 13,500 before it was disbanded in mid 2021, but since then numbers have almost doubled, as the shortage of staff and other resources begins to bite.
In May, the IND managed to process just 39% of initial assessments within the regulation period, compared with 78% at the beginning of the year. And according to refugee agency Vluchtelingenwerk, at least 6,000 people have been waiting for more than six months for a preliminary assessment.
Last month, justice ministry inspectors warned that the IND had neither the staff nor the resources to examine asylum claims carefully.
Vluchtelingenwerk has now called on junior justice minister Erik van der Burg to make sure refugees’ claims are processed as soon as possible.
‘In emergency accommodation in Leeuwarden, hundreds of refugees have been living more more than six months in a hall with bunk beds separated by screens,’ a spokesman said. ‘Hardly any of them have had a meeting with the IND and questions by phone or email are not being answered. Refugees are worried they are being forgotten.’
The IND said in a reaction that it regrets the long waiting lists but that delays are sometimes unavoidable. In particular, the rise in refugees from Syria and the unrest in Afghanistan have added to the capacity problems, the IND said.
In April, 2,235 people made a first application for asylum in the Netherlands.
In 2021 as a whole, nearly 24,700 people applied for asylum and some 56% came from Syria, Afghanistan and Turkey.
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