The Dutch authorities have revealed that the country’s border police seized a total of 1,465 forged travel documents in 2021.
According to the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee, the number of documents sized in 2021 increased by more than 10 per cent compared to 2020, thus suggesting that the number of those who tried to enter the Netherlands illegally grew, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
The Royal Netherlands Marechaussee disclosed that the majority of the seized documents were passports – Romanian, Italian, Greek, Belgian, and Spanish – and identity cards. In addition, the same noted that most of these documents were authentic but had falsified information on them.
The spokesperson of the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee, Rober van Kapel, said for NOS radio that the border police expected the number of fake travel documents detected at the border to decrease due to COVID-19 restrictions that were imposed to halt the further spread of the virus. However, the opposite happened.
According to Kapel, the Dutch authorities detected a larger number of fake documents last year mainly because the migration routes got reopened.
“We had expected the total would go down because of the impact of coronavirus on travel, but in fact, we saw a considerable increase. That was partly because migration routes opened up again, and human traffickers sent people off with forged papers,” Kapel said for NOS radio.
Of the total number of documents that were seized in 2021, the authorities noted that 947 of them were identified at Amsterdam Airport Schipol, and another 99 documents were identified at Eindhoven Airport.
It has been revealed that the majority of persons who were caught holding a fake travel document at the two above-mentioned airports were reaching the Netherlands from Spain, Italy, or Greece.
Apart from the 1,046 fake travel documents that were seized at the airports, another 287 of them were seized at Netherlands’ share border with Belgium and Germany. This means that individuals holding counterfeited documents previously reached Belgium and Germany and then tried to enter the Netherlands.
Additionally, another 20 travel documents were seized at sea borders. The Dutch authorities are yet to reveal data pertaining to 2022.
While the number of those who tried to enter the Netherlands illegally increased, the country registered fewer asylum seekers.
Statistics Netherlands disclosed that during the first three months of 2022, the country registered 6,485 first-time asylum applications, which is 35 per cent less than the number of applications recorded in the last three months of 2021.
The most noticeable decrease was recorded among nationals of Syria, Afghanistan, and Yemen.