Improving the social protection needs of asylum seekers and refugees. Learning from the experiences of displaced Sudanese in the Netherlands

Release date: 2020-07

This Policy Brief shows not only the contradictory manner in which Western governments have dealt with demands of control, low costs and humanitarian approaches but also the negative consequences this has for the asylum seekers and refugees, their families and the receiving state.

Based on the Dutch case, this Policy Brief provides a series of policy recommendations, which might also be useful for other European countries.

\ Governments should facilitate paid work to asylum seekers from day one Asylum seekers often spend months, if not years, in the asylum seeking process with limited access to work. This affects them on multiple levels. Allowing them to work from the beginning of the asylum process in the host country would benefit the asylum seekers, their families and the host state.

\ Speed up and facilitate the recognition of academic certificates. Establishing fast-track programmes that allow refugees to undergo a qualifications validation process of their academic certificates would significantly reduce the time it takes for them to be incorporated in the labour market. 

\ Incentivise internship and volunteer work (when paid work is not possible). Unpaid internships and the unclear rewards of volunteer jobs during the asylum process and even after obtaining refugee status lead many people to remain idle or engage in the informal market. To avoid these situations, European governments should find ways to incentivise internships and volunteer work for asylum seekers and refugees. A way to do this would be, for example, to reward this type of work by allowing them to spend more time back home without having their social security rights penalised.