‘State of Migration constitutes starting point for balanced migration debate’

Wednesday 7 July saw State Secretary for Justice and Security Ankie Broekers-Knol submit the first edition of the State of Migration to the Dutch Lower House of Parliament. The State of Migration shows and describes the status quo in respect of migration and situates this in a national, European and international context. As a one-off, the overview of incidents is being sent at the same time as the State of Migration this year.

‘The State of Migration constitutes the starting point for not only balanced debate but also the future of our policy’,

says Broekers-Knol.

‘Migration has a major impact on the Netherlands – on population growth, for instance. This paper puts the whole issue in perspective and provides the building blocks needed to address it.’

Migration goes beyond asylum

From a global perspective, Europe is the region with the highest number of international migrants. For the most part, these migrants are EU citizens relocating to other EU Member States with a view to working or studying there. After all, EU citizens have the right to live, work or study in other EU Member States.

One in ten migrants coming to the Netherlands will apply for asylum. Approximately five in ten migrants hail from other EU Member States and are coming to work, to study or to join their families here. Roughly four in ten migrants coming to the Netherlands are from countries outside the European Union and are coming to work, to study or to join their families here. Most of them are from India, the USA and China. The State of Migration also provides insight into migrants leaving the Netherlands. Most migrants come here temporarily to work, to study or to join their families. Seven in ten migrants from the EU and five in ten migrants from outside the EU leave the Netherlands within a decade.


‘The State of Migration provides an up-to-date, comprehensive picture of migration and shows that it constitutes more than just asylum. It also makes evident the hard work done by all chain partners, who labour day in, day out to properly shape and implement migration policy.’

The State of Migration is a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and supersedes the Immigration Chain Report (RVK) and the Integrated Migration Agenda (IMA).

Overview of incidents

The 2020 overview of incidents was drawn up by the Ministry of Justice and Security in cooperation with the Research and Documentation Centre (WODC). The overview of incidents is to be compiled by the WODC from next year onwards.

The 2020 overview of incidents reveals that there was a drop in the number of incidents at sites of the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) last year. An incident is said to have occurred when a resident breaks the law and/or the COA house rules. This could be something minor, such as not cleaning one’s own living space or smoking in one’s own room, or could be more serious, such as resorting to physical violence. A total of 16,262 incidents were recorded in 2020, compared to 17,487 last year (7% drop).

The decline in the number of incidents was most pronounced for violations of the COA house rules, falling from 9,609 (2019) to 757 (2020). However, this decrease does not apply to the ‘aggression and violence against persons’ category of incidents, for which the number of physical incidents increased from 1,823 (2019) to 1,923 (2020). The number of suicides rose from two cases in 2019 to seven in 2020. The number of times a measure was imposed by the COA also increased by 5% year on year. Measures can include withholding living allowance or holding a corrective interview.

Police figures

Criminal offences, such as theft or serious violence, are recorded by the police. The total number of crimes recorded for foreign nationals living at a COA site at any point in 2020 and identified as criminal suspects fell by 12% year on year. The most significant decrease is found in the number of offences against property. The number of both violent and non-violent thefts fell by 17%. There was no fall in the number of incidents within the category of murder and aggravated assault/grievous bodily harm.

Attempts in the category of murder and manslaughter rose from 30 (2019) to 32 (2020). In 2020, there were two records of crimes committed in the category of murder and manslaughter, representing no change year on year. The number of recorded incidents of aggravated assault/grievous bodily harm rose to 94 in 2020, up from 56 in 2019. In 59% of all cases, the suspect was a foreign national from a safe country, representing no change year on year.

Tough on troublemakers

The Netherlands is keen to offer safety and protection to people fleeing war and violence. A relatively small group of people cause trouble and abuse the asylum system. Crime and troublemaking are unacceptable and erode support in society. Consequently, State Secretary Ankie Broekers-Knol implemented tough measures in 2019 and continues to make tackling troublemakers the highest priority. For example, the Top-X approach has been adopted, chain marines (‘ketenmariniers’) have been deployed to crackdown on troublemakers and serious troublemakers are kept in separate accommodation in the so-called Enforcement and Supervision Location, which has a stricter regime.