De Jong: Government must finally take action on European asylum centres

3 May 2014

De Jong: Government must finally take action on European asylum centres

Cooperation over asylum between EU member states has ground to a halt. The number of people requesting asylum is growing ever greater. This is especially true in Italy, Greece, Spain and Bulgaria, but the Netherlands too is having to cope with more asylum seekers who have travelled unlawfully through other European countries. ‘Countries with long exterior borders are increasingly failing to process requests for asylum, while refused asylum seekers can often not be deported to their country of origin. Detention of such people is then used as a means of pressuring the asylum seekers to move on independently, so that they end up being detained intermittently for years. Medical attention, in addition, is inadequate, leading to degrading situations.’

Dennis de JongMore than eighteen months ago SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong proposed that European asylum centres should be opened close to the EU’s exterior borders. To date in the SP’s view the Dutch government has done far too little to pursue this idea. This must now change, and quickly. ‘Italy has registered 25,000 asylum seekers already this year’ De Jong notes. ‘The Italian government says that there are 800,000 people in North Africa prepared to make the crossing to Europe. In Bulgaria the number of asylum seekers has grown in a year from 1,000 to 11,000. In Greece and Spain as well, and principally in the Spanish Moroccan enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, the situation is out of control. Member states look on but do little or nothing. This threatens to degenerate into a humanitarian crisis.’

With the plan for European asylum centres close to the exterior borders of the European Union, the SP is trying to bring about the organisation of a decent initial reception as well as proper processing of requests for asylum. ‘Asylum seekers would thus have fair and effective treatment,’ says De Jong. ‘If they have no right to asylum, the chances are increased that they would be able to return to the country they came from. People who are clearly refugees would gain recognition of their status more quickly. Only complicated applications would then still have to be processed in other member states, and the asylum seekers would be divided evenly between them. Unlawful travel to other member states, such as the Netherlands, would be ended. This would be better for everyone, but up to now the ministers involved have not really taken it up. What we’re waiting for is still a political initiative from the Dutch government, which in the past has said that it does not regard the idea negatively. To wait any longer would be completely irresponsible.’

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