According to the cabinet, the distribution of refugees in Europe is not yet on the agenda –

According to the cabinet, the distribution of refugees in Europe is not yet on the agenda –

Redistribution of refugees within Europe is “no longer a question”. According to Foreign Minister Eric van der Burg (Asylum), Poland and Hungary said they could “get the job done”. The cabinet is still waiting for a large number of Ukrainian refugees, since they can continue independently in the Netherlands. Because temporary housing is being sought diligently, she is also calling on the House of Representatives to think about how housing, education and care can be arranged in the long term.

More than two million Ukrainians fled abroad. Neighboring countries are now hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees. Many more people were displaced in Ukraine. The country has about 44 million inhabitants.

However, there is no redistribution within Europe, as Poland and Hungary have not yet requested this. According to the state secretary, this is partly because they want to offer shelter. In most cases, these are friends or relatives. On the other hand, these Member States have always opposed the redistribution of refugees in recent years. That is why such a request is now ‘politically sensitive’, according to Van der Burg.

Moldova also hosts a large number of refugees. Even the highest per capita. The country is not a member of the EU and is one of the poorest countries in Europe. The cabinet wants to support Moldova as well as Poland and Hungary, but has no intention of actively taking in refugees. The State Secretary points out that the refugees can go to the Netherlands themselves.

Cabinet does not know exactly how many refugees there are in the Netherlands

No one knows exactly how many Ukrainian refugees have arrived in the Netherlands. Many are not on the radar because they are staying with friends or family, for example. There are also holiday homes, garden houses and bed & breakfasts all over the country.

The company is looking for a way to keep these contacts. First of all, for proper regulation of healthcare and education rights. Moreover, according to the foreign minister, “solidarity has limits”. Although the minister describes people’s private initiatives as “heartwarming”, he thinks that people cannot and do not want to have shelter for months, a year. “You have to see this as a delayed question,” said Van der Burg.

Ukrainians seeking shelter are currently being taken care of in large emergency shelters, such as Harskamp near Ede or Jaarbeurs in Utrecht. Last week, the cabinet asked 25 security zones to create 2,000 reception places. That means shelter for 50 thousand refugees. The State Secretary was unable to provide an alternative estimate. Van der Burg also did not want to set a limit to the number of people that the Netherlands could accommodate, in response to questions from PVV and JA21. “Of course it has limits, but I don’t have an exact figure,” he said.

The organization of reception and facilities is not the responsibility of the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA). “He already has his hands full to set up seven thousand more regular reception places for asylum seekers,” said the Minister of Foreign Affairs. COA can provide municipalities with expert advice, but does not make employees available.

Many municipalities do not yet know exactly what the rights and obligations of Ukrainians are. The Association of Dutch Municipalities (VNG) is working with the government on a guideline for the reception of Ukrainian refugees during the crisis.

Ukrainian refugees are temporarily housed in a gym in South Rotterdam. People can remain in the aisle while waiting for long-term care.


Ukrainian refugees are temporarily housed in a gym in South Rotterdam.  People can remain in the aisle while waiting for long-term care.

Ukrainian refugees are temporarily housed in a gym in South Rotterdam. People can remain in the aisle while waiting for long-term care.

Photographer: FATHER

Piri (PvdA): ‘Remember that these people will stay here’

In addition to food and shelter, Ukrainians who come to the Netherlands – just like other asylum seekers – have the right to health and education. They also enjoy a special status that allows them to work and receive social benefits within the European Union.

How this will be organized is still unclear. The Minister of Foreign Affairs still has many questions from parliament to answer.

Although Van der Burg takes into account that Ukrainians will not return to their country in a few weeks, he is hesitant to answer parliamentary questions about integration. “We should actually assume that these people will stay here,” says MP Kati Piri (PvdA). Like D66 MP Anne-Marijke Podt, she believes that refugees should learn the language as quickly as possible, so that they can “find their way”. Piri says that children also have the right to regular education.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs points out that the cabinet is currently working on the implementation of the first installations. “People and children now also need rest,” he says. In the next step, he wants to see if the children can be raised in the “Ukrainian way, for example with volunteers”. If the cabinet has a better idea of ​​the length of stay in the Netherlands, the Dutch education system must “take action”, according to Van der Burg.

Source: NU

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