It remains uncertain if a group of failed Somali asylum seekers in the Netherlands will have to return to Somalia. That’s the conclusion of a debate yesterday in Dutch Parliament, which RNW observed, concerning the dismantled tent camp of asylum seekers in the northern town of Ter Apel.
The camp was set up by various failed asylum seekers in protest of their impending deportation. Coming primarily from Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Eritrea and Ethiopia, the protestors claimed their lives would be at risk if forced to return to their countries of origin. On 22 May, Dutch police used force to dismantle the camp.
“I don’t get how the Dutch think,” said Abdullah Yusef, speaking to RNW last week before the camp was dismantled. The 34-year-old asylum seeker from Somalia has lived on the street in the Netherlands for three years.
“I have no house, no food, no water, no life insurance. Animals here have their own hospital, their own ambulances,” he said. “I’m shocked by the Netherlands, I am shocked by way they treat us. I want the whole world to know what they are doing.”
Dutch MPs Tofik Dibi of the Green Party and Joel Voordewind of the Christian Union party have, together with others, expressed their dissatisfaction with how the forced eviction was handled. They have called it a “debacle”.
A group of failed Iraqi asylum seekers has been offered shelter until at least 15 June by Dutch Minister for Immigration Gerd Leers. By that time, he would have spoken to his counterpart in Iraq to establish a return policy for the group.
However, as Voordewind asked during the debate, pressing Leers: “But what will happen to the other big group of failed asylum seekers, the Somalis?”
According to Leers, a return by force is not planned at this time. At present, asylum seekers wishing to make a voluntary return to Somaliland, the northern part of Somalia, can do so.
Those wishing to return to Mogadishu cannot yet do so because, as Leers put it, the region is not yet “al-Shebaab-proof”. As such, an asylum seeker who can prove he or she comes from an area occupied by al-Shebaab, al-Qaeda's local faction in Somalia, may qualify for an asylum permit.
Leers promised to hold talks with Somali authorities in the near future for an appropriate and safe return policy for Somali asylum seekers, presumably including those who had camped in Ter Apel.