April 20th, 2012 • The Ministry of Immigration and Asylum today announced that the children of a Burundi asylum seeker who committed suicide last week have been granted the right to remain in the Netherlands. SP Member of Parliament Sharon Gesthuizen describes her reaction as one of ‘relief’, adding that ‘this was the only conceivable solution. It’s good that the minister has taken this decision. I am certain that the children will find support in a familiar environment to get them through this difficult time and I hope that they will be able to pick up the thread of their lives.’
In the last few days the whole of the Netherlands has been in sympathy with the children of the depressed man who died by his own hand on 9th April. ‘Numerous different public authorities were aware that this man was experiencing extreme difficulties,’ says Gesthuizen. ‘We need to look at whether this act of despair could not have been prevented. Of course it is the welfare of his children that’s now the most important thing, but eventually many questions regarding the circumstances of what occurred will have to be answered.'
The 14-year old son of the asylum seeker has said that the Immigration and Naturalisation Service, the IND, played a major role in the affair. His father, who was 36, was known to have serious psychological problems, despite which the IND pressed on with the process of expelling the man and returning him to Burundi, incurring the displeasure of the community in which he lived and many social organisations.
For Gesthuizen, the way in which asylum seekers with psychological problems are treated has long been a matter of urgency. ‘We have in the last few years on many occasions brought to the minister’s attention the risks involved in reasoning that asylum seekers claim to be feeling bad simply to strengthen their case for a residency permit,’ she says. ‘I hope that there will now be a change in this policy.’