Refugees at risk of financial problems in the Netherlands: Ombudsman

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Refugees have a relatively high risk of ending up in long-term financial problems in the Netherlands, national ombudsman Reinier van Zutphen said in a report on Monday. These asylum seekers with a residence permit face overly complicated systems while they often don’t understand the Dutch language very well and still struggle to deal with traumatic events, he said, reports NU .nl.

Moving from an asylum center to a hostel is already difficult because orientation is often insufficient. And the refugees only receive healthcare and housing allowances after about eight weeks, but the bills must be paid immediately. Although they often have no financial reserve and already have to pay for integration courses, travel and translation of foreign documents.

All of this requires working with many different government agencies. “It creates problems when they don’t work well together,” Van Zutphen said.

The Ombudsman wants the Netherlands to set up an easily accessible point of contact that can help refugees solve their problems, financial or otherwise. “Existing counters are insufficiently known or accessible to this group,” he said.

The Civic Integration Law of 2021 has made municipalities responsible for the integration process of refugees since this year. During the first six months, the municipalities are responsible for covering the refugees’ rent, gas, water, electricity and health insurance. Van Zutphen called it promising but stressed that it didn’t solve all the problems. For example, many refugees received their residence permit before the entry into force of this law, so they are not eligible for this aid.

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