Should Ukrainians apply for asylum?
There are now more than 21,000 Ukrainians in the Netherlands who fled their country because of the war. The Netherlands is fully committed to receiving these refugees. On our reaction platform and social media handles you asked questions about this asylum reception. Here we answer your most important questions.
Why don’t Ukrainian refugees have to register? Without a clear overview of numbers, it is almost impossible to draw up a good plan of action?
State Secretary Eric van der Burg (Justice and Security) also indicated earlier that registration is important. In this way, the Netherlands can continue to keep an eye on the Ukrainian refugees and they can, for example, be approached more easily for education.
But it is simply not mandatory for Ukrainians to register upon arrival in the Netherlands. The treaty that the European Union concluded with Ukraine years ago allows them to travel visa-free to the Netherlands. Other refugees must register and report to Ter Apel.
Ukrainians are asked to register with the municipality where they reside. At the end of last month, 15,000 people had done so. They now receive an invitation from the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) to submit an asylum application.
Should Ukrainians apply for asylum? Answers to your questions about the reception
But Ukrainians didn’t have to apply for asylum, did they? How about that?
It was said that Ukrainians do not have to apply for asylum, but that is no longer entirely true. In March, the European Union decided to draw up a Temporary Protection Directive for people from Ukraine.
It is used when there is a massive influx of people from a country to which they cannot return.
In the Netherlands, Ukrainians have to go through a procedure in order to receive this temporary protection. The asylum application they have to make is a simplified version of a normal process.
For example, Ukrainians do not have to report to Ter Apel first, which other refugees have to do.
If the procedure is approved, the Ukrainian refugee is entitled to temporary protection. That protection can last up to three years. During that time, they are entitled to, among other things, childcare, education, medical assistance and are allowed to work.
Should the war end, how soon will ukrainians have to go back?
Whether the Ukrainians should return immediately after the end of the war is not yet clear.
Because of the war in Ukraine, a decision stop has been in place for six months since the end of February. This means that the IND will not decide on the asylum application for Ukrainians during this period. So they cannot be sent back to Ukraine. This decision stop can be extended.
In addition, Ukraine will not be a safe country of origin for at least the next six months. If a country is labeled “safe country,” it means that immigrants generally have no reason to apply for asylum and it is likely to be rejected.
In the coming months, the ministries will review the appointment of Ukraine as a safe country. That decision may in turn have an effect on the asylum procedure.
What is the impact on the ‘regular’ refugees, does that remain the same and where do they stay?
Even before the war in Ukraine, the Netherlands was already struggling with a stalled asylum system: the reception centres are overcrowded and the processing of applications is often delayed. Now there are even more refugees, and that presents the Netherlands with a major challenge.
Ukrainian refugees do not end up in the regular asylum seekers’ centres of the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA). In principle, the search for reception places for Ukrainians and for regular asylum seekers is separate from each other, but the parties involved (including the Security Regions) are working together to arrange reception places for both groups as quickly as possible.
There are now about 32,000 shelters for Ukrainians. That should eventually become 50,000. The COA has a shortage of 3,500 reception places that must be solved before 1 July.
At the end of March, the Safety Regions decided to arrange 2,000 regular places in the short term.
Where are Ukrainians going to live if we already have a housing shortage?
Van den Burg emphasized Wednesday in a letter to the House of Representatives that “the displacement of home seekers must be limited as much as possible”.
For example, housing corporations are asked not to use existing houses for emergency shelter for Ukrainians. Instead, they should fully focus on finding the homes of the more than 13,000 status holders who are still waiting in asylum seekers’ centres for a home.
These status holders are not given priority over other house hunters, such as starters. But once they have a home, space becomes available in the asylum seekers’ centers, which reduces the search for reception places.
How that will go with Ukrainians who want to continue living here is not yet clear. Van den Burg says that we “have to prepare for the possibility of longer-term residence of large numbers of displaced persons from Ukraine”.
The ministries and housing associations involved are now looking at how this should be done.
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