31 July 2012

Somalia: Somali Refugees in the Netherlands Protest

Dozens of Somali refugees spent last night on the pavement outside the office of the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) in the southern Dutch city of Den Bosch. The group are protesting about restrictions that have been placed on their freedom of movement.

The 77 Somalis have all had their requests for asylum turned down and are waiting to be deported. However, the Dutch Council of State decided two weeks ago that Somalia was still too unsafe for them to be forced to return.

The Council also ruled that they must not be kept in detention, so they were placed in an asylum seekers' centre and ordered not to leave the surrounding district and to report daily to the authorities.

The refugees say they feel they are being treated as criminals and would rather sleep on the street than live in an asylum centre.

Speaking to Dutch press agency Novum, one of the men said, "We want to live like normal people, not like criminals."

A spokesperson for Immigration Minister Gerd Leers told Dutch public broadcaster NOS that the minister will not be influenced by the protest.

He said the Somalis were free to return voluntarily to their homeland if they were unhappy with their treatment in the Netherlands.

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