Building Knowledge for a Concerted and Sustainable Approach to Refugee Resettlement in the EU and its Member States

Ministry of Justice

Policy statements and debates

The segment below has been summarily translated by our Dutch Country Collaborator for the Netherlands, Fenya Fischler. The source (in Dutch) is linked below.

Directoraat-Generaal Wetgeving, Internationale Aangelegenheden en Vreemdelingenzaken, Beleidskader hervestiging 2008-2011

Dutch Resettlement Policy Framework 2008-2011

Background resettlement policy

  • The Dutch government considers her support to UNHCR in relation to resettlement indispensable in demonstrating solidarity with countries who are forced to accept large numbers of refugees and as part of the policy concerning the strengthening of protection of refugees in the region.
  • The Netherlands has for the past year used an annual quota of 500 refugees per year on average.

Principles of the resettlement policy for the period 2008 – 2011

  • In the Coalition Agreement it was established that the quota for resettled refugees would be set down after 2007 at 500 persons on average. The government intended to use a term of 4 years, which constitutes 2000 resettled refugees for the period 2008 – 2011.
  • The coalition agreement also sets out that the Cabinet will ensure that the quota is fully met.
  • The protection need of the refugees eligible for resettlement will be a guiding principle
  • The policy that has been put in motion in recent years will be followed in general terms


  • The scope of the quota will consist of 500 refugees. For the next 4 years this means 2000 resettled refugees: an amount which may be met in a flexible way within the specific time period.
  • In the past under-utilization of the quota has taken place, but since 2005 this is no longer the case. This year (2007) also it looks like the quota will be fully met.
  • Per year 30 places of the quota are reserved for “medical cases”. When a refugee is selected on medical grounds then whether or not the necessary treatment is available in the country of residence is a central consideration. In addition the treatment must lead to an essential improvement of the health situation.
  • The Netherlands prefer to assess these medical cases during resettlement mission, because the individual can be medically assessed and the most up-to-date picture of their medical situation can be established.
  • When UNHCR appeals to the Netherlands for the resettlement of a group of refugees in very urgent (political) situations at the end of a resettlement period, the government will decide ad hoc whether the quota will be exceeded.
  • The government will continue to make efforts to meet the quota of 500/year.
  • The high percentage of rejections in the past is due to 1) lack of information or inaccuracies in information in UNHCR dossiers 2) the temporary cancellation of resettlement missions (1999 - 2005) and non-compliance with the asylum grounds in the Aliens Act.

Misuse and fraude in family reunification/creation of resettled refugees

  • A large part of the quota is met through unforeseen family reunification/creation. In 33% of the cases within the quota family reunification is used at the moment.
  • I suggest that the right to invite family members within the quota with a right to financial assistance under the quota be limited to those family members who are known to the IND at the time of selection.
  • In the new situation, where an unknown family member of the main refugee comes forward within the 3 month period after his/her selection the same procedure will be used as that for family members of asylum permit holders who have spontaneously travelled to the Netherlands. This means that travel and documents will have to be paid by the refugees themselves.
  • The usual support given to resettled refugees will not be applicable to these refugees either. The family member him/herself must apply for a permit.
  • The family member who was not known at the time of selection does as such not fall within the quota.
  • The main starting point will be the declarations made to the IND by refugees at the time of selection about their family members. Those who are not mentioned, will not be invited to join the refugee.
  • A reduction in family reunification cases where family members were unknown at the time of selection is expected as a result of this new rule.

Resettlement missions and dossier selection

  • The Netherlands will carry out a number of resettlement missions per year to UNHCR field offices. The destination will be established in collaboration with UNHCR.
  • Participants to the missions are IND-resettlement matters, Bureau Medische Advisering, COA and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
  • The Netherlands will carry out at least one mission per year to a country with which the Netherlands has a development cooperation relationship.
  • The Netherlands can also be lead by strategic choices in its choice of destinations, in the framework of the improvement of protection in the region. Resettlement can also be a way to resolve a political deadlock.
  • Dossier selection will also take place on the basis of nominations by UNHCR field offices and “emergency cases” by the UNHCR office in Geneva.

Resettlement criteria

  • The protection need of the individual refugee is the most important consideration for the Dutch government.
  • To establish whether resettlement will take place an assessment will be made on the basis of UNHCR nominations together with Dutch asylum policy. The latter includes the Refugee Convention (incl art 1F), the individual protection grounds as set down in art 29, first section, (a)(b) and (c) of the Aliens Act, the general official reports from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and my policy concerning the country of origin of the refugee.
  • The reception by the COA at one location (Amersfoort) will continue.
  • The Cultural Orientation programme will be maintained. 

European Initiatives

  • The Netherlands will continue to try and motivate other countries to contribute to durable solutions for the worldwide solutions as resettlement partners of UNHCR. The Dutch Government will also strive towards a European resettlement policy.
  • At the moment the Netherlands is working on a pilot mission together with the Czech Republic, Romania and Belgium to show the process of resettlement to these countries.
  • The Netherlands strives for extra financial support for its resettlement policy by making use of the European Refugee Fund.