Third-country nationals from Ukraine still don’t know whether they should leave the shelter

Third-country nationals from Ukraine still don’t know whether they should leave the shelter
Third-country nationals from Ukraine still don’t know whether they should leave the shelter
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Arie Kievit
Demonstration by third-country nationals in The Hague last summer

NOS Newstoday, 05:36Amended today, 07:44

  • Rollinde Hoorntje

    Domestic Editor

  • Rollinde Hoorntje

    Domestic Editor

A large group of “third country nationals” – people from other countries who worked or studied in Ukraine when the war broke out there – do not accept the fact that they have to leave the municipal shelter today. The Council of State determined this at the end of January. Refugees from Ukraine with Ukrainian nationality can remain in reception for almost another year, until March 4, 2025.

Although there is no appeal against a ruling by the Council of State – it is the highest administrative court – third-country nationals have nevertheless initiated cases in the courts. They challenge the decision that they have to return, some successfully, others not. Last month, judges made rulings that were at odds with the judgment of the Council of State, but also differed greatly from each other.

Huge legal uncertainty

“We are dealing with a very complicated situation,” said outgoing State Secretary Van der Burg (VVD, asylum & migration) on Friday. In total, there are still more than 2,500 third-country nationals in the Netherlands, but according to him, the rulings always concern individual cases.

The policy of the Ministry of Justice is that people for whom the judge has said that they cannot stay may be removed from the shelter. Third-country nationals whose substantive proceedings are still ongoing or whose complaint has been declared well-founded, may remain in the municipal shelter.

But that creates “enormous legal uncertainty”, according to lawyer Marjon Ristra-Peeters, who handles several such cases. “Surely it cannot be the case that one part of this group is allowed to stay in the Netherlands longer than the other, purely on the basis of which judge handled the case?” She believes that the Council of State should look at it again.

Letter with text and explanation

Last Friday there was an emergency meeting between the Association of Dutch Municipalities (VNG) and Van der Burg about the confusion that had arisen. Today another letter with text and explanation will be sent to municipalities, but the Ministry of Justice does not yet want to say what it contains.

Of the 2,540 third-country nationals residing in the Netherlands, 750 have submitted an asylum application, reports the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND). They can find shelter at the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers.

Most municipalities ensure that this transition takes place in phases, due to the large crowds in the registration center in Ter Apel. In addition, 250 third-country nationals have applied for another permit and more than 1,500 people have not yet informed the IND of their plans.

No money, no work

The appeal of third-country national Samuel Ikegwu (27) from Nigeria has been rejected by the judge in Utrecht. He lives in Amsterdam and is emotional about the situation, he says. He doesn’t know whether he should leave the shelter now. He cannot or does not want to return to Nigeria, he says.

“There is nothing for me there: no money, no work. I studied in Ukraine for five years, fled to the Netherlands with a heavily pregnant wife. If the war had not happened, our child would have had Ukrainian nationality. When I go back I cannot use my studies to go to Nigeria and I will soon earn the minimum wage, 200 euros per month.”

Municipalities are at a loss and do not know whether they should continue to offer shelter to the group of displaced people or whether they should kick them out of the shelter. They also deal with it differently, according to an inventory by the NOS.

There are still about 55 third-country nationals staying in Eindhoven. They will be expelled from the shelter if they have not initiated a procedure or if the judge has rejected their appeal, in line with IND policy.

Den Bosch will not be deporting third-country nationals for the time being. Of the approximately 73 third-country nationals who are still being accommodated there, half have not appealed, but they are also allowed to stay.

Amsterdam has 200 third-country nationals. The municipality is awaiting developments in the coming days.

The article is in Dutch

Tags: Thirdcountry nationals Ukraine dont leave shelter

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