Dutch Somalis often struggle financially: report

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A little Somali girl (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/USAID). Little girl wearing a headscarf (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/USAID)

Somalis in the Netherlands often struggle financially. Only about one in five Somali Dutch have work and about half of them are living on benefits. The Somalis is by far the population in the Netherlands with the most problems in the labor market.

This is according to figures from Statistics Netherlands and the Social and Cultural Planning Office (SCP), Volkskrant reports.

The majority of the about 37 thousand Somali Dutch arrived in the Netherlands as asylum seekers. But even compared to other refugee groups, the Somalis are struggling. Afghans and Iranians living in the Netherlands have work twice as often as Somalis. Only about 1 percent of the Dutch Somalis are self-employed, compared to 30 percent of Bulgarians and 10 percent of Afghans. According to the Volkskrant, this is mostly due to Somalis having difficulty with the paperwork required in starting a  business and with getting enough start-up capital together. The high unemployment rate can also be attributed to a low education or even illiteracy.

According to Jco Dagevos of the SCP, the Dutch government's transition to a general integration policy, with little attention paid to vulnerable groups, has had a negative effect for the Somalis. Minister Lodewijk Asscher of Social Affairs said last year that the government opted for a general policy because it would ensure that the "breadth of the issues are addressed" and that it would be a more effective approach than policies aimed at specific groups.

For the Somalis, this hasn't worked very well. "We expect that Somalis arrange their integration and learn the language themselves, but that is almost impossible for people who can not even read and write in their own language." Ilse van Liempt of the Utrecht University told the Volkskrant. She and her colleague Gery Nijenhuis did a study of the Somali community in the Netherlands.

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