Netherlands sends €60m to Iraq, Syria & Yemen in refugee crisis response

Refugees at the Lebanon-Syria border (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/H. Murdock)Child asylum seekers (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/H. Murdock)

The government is making 58.5 million euros available to help victims of conflict in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, a spokesperson for Minister Lilianne Ploumen of Development Cooperation confirmed to the Volkskrant on Friday. According to the Minister, crisis in the Middle East region has reached unprecedented levels.

Ten million euros of the money will be going to Yemen, where the situation is rapidly deteriorating. Aid agencies are concerned about famine. A total of 21 million people, 80 percent of the population, need help. The United Nations will use the Dutch aid for efforts to help malnourished children.

The majority of the money - 48.5 million euros - is earmarked to fight the humanitarian crisis caused by the civil war in Syria and Iraq. Five million euros is going to Iraq for humanitarian aid and 5 million is going to Lebanon for food. Money will also go to projects in refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon, among other things.

The Netherlands has already given more than 114 million euros in emergency aid to Syrian refugees since the civil war erupted in the country in 2011. More than 4 million people have fled Syria since the start of the war.

Frans Timmermans, vice president of the European Commission, has joined his party leader, Diederik Samsom, PvdA, in a call for a centralized European asylum policy. In an interview with VRT news, he stated that there is an urgent need for a European asylum policy to be introduced and the agreements to be carried out, NOS reports. The commissioner also wants asylum seekers to be distributed across European Union Member States in a fairer way.

Timmermans wants refugees to be interviewed in their own region. If they are entitled to asylum, it should be Europe's responsibility to make sure that they get to the EU legally and safely, he said. In this way they will not fall into the hands of smugglers.