The Netherlands to resume stalled procedures for Sudanese refugees

The Netherlands Houses of Parliament in The Hague (File photo: Markus Bernet / Creative Commons)

Sudanese refugees in the Netherlands have welcomed the decision issued by the Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) to resume processing asylum applications for Sudanese citizens, that have been pending since July 8 2023.

The IND said on its website that it would resume making decisions on asylum applications submitted by Sudanese, noting that it temporarily suspended processing applications in July 8 last year, citing uncertainty of the situation in Sudan.

Outgoing State Secretary for Justice and Security, Eric Van der Burgh, explained in a letter to parliament on Thursday that the department would begin considering applications after a country policy on Sudan had been drawn up, which would be used as a basis for decision-making.

Abdelghani Adam, a Sudanese asylum seeker from the area of Kabkabiya in North Darfur, currently residing in the Dronten camp in the Netherlands, told Radio Dabanga he was happy with the decision, explaining that they have been waiting for their applications to be processed since they arrived in the country in June last year.

He and his fellow refugees were living in difficult psychological conditions due to the suspension of their asylum applications. They had undergone the initial interview and were now waiting for the second interview.

Random acts of violence

The new Dutch policy on Sudan is based on the latest official report by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The report describes the serious and current developments in the country, where an armed conflict has been ongoing since April 2023. This conflict creates a risk of indiscriminate violence in a number of areas.

The report confirms that the areas of Khartoum, North, South and Central Darfur, Kordofan, and El Gezira are most at risk of serious harm from indiscriminate violence due to the high level of violence. According to the report, in West Darfur, personal circumstances and the specific situation can lead to a real risk of serious harm. As for the other areas, it is assumed that there is not enough of an exceptional situation, which is the risk of indiscriminate violence.

Ethnic violence

In addition to indiscriminate violence, the warring parties are also committing targeted violence, the report said. The Masalit ethnic group, an African group having its ‘dar’ (homeland) in West Darfur, has been and still is systematically targeted by the RSF.

The State Department report said violence also targeted other African population groups, including political activists, human rights activists, journalists, LGBT people, women and girls, and emergency room staff. The Immigration and Naturalisation Service said it takes into account the additional risk these people face when they become victims of violence in its individual assessment.

Immigration policy

The Department confirmed that 880 initial asylum applications were submitted by persons of Sudanese nationality between July 2023 and May 2024. Pending asylum applications by Sudanese nationals will now be processed in accordance with the normal working method of the general asylum procedure.

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.