Sudanese in the Netherlands dismayed at decision to reassess residence permits
The Migration Ministry of the Netherlands is to reassess asylum applicants from Sudan’s Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile states citing an ‘improved situation since 2017’. Sudanese in the Netherlands have reacted with dismay.
Up to 50 Sudanese citizens – specifically from Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile states – who have sought asylum in the Netherlands, some of whom have already lived legally in the country for more than five years and have now applied for permanent residence status, have been surprised and shocked to receive a letter from the Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service (Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst IND) informing them that unless they change the grounds for their application, they will be compelled to return to Sudan.
According to the IND, by November 1, around 100 individuals will receive the letter informing them about the reassessment of their residence permit.
Several Sudanese citizens who have already received the notification from the IND expressed dismay. Three of them who spoke to Radio Dabanga have been living in the Netherlands for five years and are in the process of applying for a permanent residence permit.
Member of the Solidarity with Refugees Committee in the Netherlands, Yousif Fashir, confirmed to Radio Dabanga that several Sudanese from the three war-affected areas have already received the notification letter and some are still expecting one. Fashir asserts that the decision is unfair and based on false information. “Look at the NGO reports regarding the security situation in the regions. They all confirm that these are unsafe or no-go areas,” he said.
Responding to questions from Radio Dabanga, Steffart Buijs, spokesperson for the Dutch Minister for Migration, Ankie Broekers-Knol, explained that the decision to reassess asylum applications is based on an official report dated October 3 2019.
“It has become evident that the situation [in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile (ed)] has improved. We have concluded that there is no longer a situation which is considered to be so volatile that any individual from this region is entitled to subsidiary protection,” Buijs told Radio Dabanga.
EU Standards for qualification
He cites article 15c of the standards for the qualification for subsidiary protection contained in European Parliament Directive 2011/95/EU of December 2011, which stipulates a “serious and individual threat to a civilian’s life or person by reason of indiscriminate violence in situations of international or internal armed conflict”.
Buijs: “This does not mean that there is no longer any conflict or violence in the region, it does however mean that the mere fact that a Sudanese individual is from these regions is no longer a reason to provide them with asylum protection. The IND will assess every new asylum application on an individual basis, this is the same for individuals who have been granted subsidiary protection because of the conflict in these regions.”
Buijs points out that on January 12 this year, the new policy on Sudan was published and has since taken effect: “On April 30 the IND wrote on its website that it would be sending out letters to the individuals whose residence permit would be reassessed. Around 100 individuals will receive a letter from the IND informing them about the reassessment of their residence permit. All the individuals will receive this letter before November 1, 2020.”
He explains that even though Sudanese applicants from Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile no longer receive subsidiary protection solely because of the conflict in the region, “they can receive international protection or subsidiary protection on an individual basis, if a Sudanese individual believes this should be the case in their situation they can explain this in a letter to the IND or do so after the IND has informed them that we are intending to revoke their residence permit. The individual then has six weeks to reply on this provisional revocation of the residence permit, by giving their viewpoints.”
Buijs recommends that applicants engage a lawyer for this process. “After this the individual will receive an invitation for an interview with an IND official. The viewpoint submitted by the individual as well as the information from the interview will be used in the formal decision. After this [in case of refusal (ed)] it is possible to appeal against this decision to a Dutch court.”
Maaz Adam from El Gireida in South Darfur, who has lived in the Netherlands for five years, said that he was expecting to receive his Dutch permanent residence permit, but instead, he got the notification letter. He was shocked because the area in South Darfur where he comes from is far from safe or secure. “The situation has become even more dangerous now because we don’t know what is happening or what might happen,” he said.
El Nour Mohammed who hails from a village outside Delling in South Kordofan also says that he has been waiting for the permanent residence permit and received the notification letter instead, that lists South Kordofan as one of the “identified safe areas”. He said that he knows of 50 Sudanese who have received a similar notification. Mohammed emphasised that the reasons that forced him to flee his country remain as they were in spite of the overthrow of the Al Bashir regime. “The security services, the government militia, and the ongoing conflict is still the same if not worse,” he told Radio Dabanga.
Faisal Musa Ahmed, originally from Kabkabiya in North Darfur told Radio Dabanga said that he is confused by the decision of the Dutch government and the notification he received. He said over the last five years he has been living in the Netherlands as an independent self-sufficient person working and studying at the same time. “Darfur is not a safe place to return to right now,” he said.
As elsewhere in Europe, traditionally moderate Dutch attitudes towards immigration have hardened over the past decades, and governments are under increasing internal political pressure from anti-immigration parties to be more selective in terms of asylum and residence applications.
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