Justice Sec. brings controversial refugee plan to EU; 3,100 apply for asylum in NL

Klaas Dijkhoff (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/VVD.nl)Klaas Dijkhoff (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/VVD.nl)

On Monday State Secretary Klaas Dijkhoff of Security and Justice has the difficult task of convincing the European Union to follow the Netherlands' plan for investing in asylum shelters near crisis areas in an effort to stop the inflow of refugees to Europe. He will attempt to do this during the European meeting in Brussels on the redistribution of 160 thousand asylum seekers.

The Dutch government wants to change the European asylum policy. Firstly they want mandatory distribution system for asylum seekers arriving in Europe. They also want Europe to be stricter in the selection of refugees they allow to cross the border by only giving asylum rights to refugees who can not find a safe place in their own regions. The government therefore wants to create safe havens for refugees in countries such as Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey by having Europe invest in education, housing and infrastructure in these countries. The idea behind this is that refugees would be less likely to want to travel to Europe if they are living in a developed environment where they can see opportunities for themselves. A budget leak on Friday revealed that the cabinet has set aside 110 million euros to invest in sheltering refugees in their own regions.

This plan assumes that countries such as Lebanon and Jordan will be prepared to take in more refugees, with the prospect of these refugees staying for a long time. Lebanon is currently housing 1.114 million Syrian refugees and Jordan has 629 thousand living with them at this stage, according to Het Parool.

The government's plan for changing the European asylum policy has already received criticism from both within and without the Netherlands and Dijkhoff can likely rely on opposition from the the other EU member states. Federica Mogherini, the European Commission’s high representative for foreign policy and security, called it an unrealistic approach, given the precarious situation surrounding the conflict areas. “I would not consider asking Lebanon, Jordan or Turkey to do this. They already take in far more refugees than we do. We would then risk destabilizing more countries and that is not in their interests or ours.”

The European Commission's plan to redistribute 160 thousand refugees across the EU member states means that the Netherlands will have to take in another 7,214 refugees. The cabinet has indicated that they will agree to this redistribution, setting the condition that Europe focuses its attention on creating safe havens to shelter refugees in their own regions.

Meanwhile the number of refugees applying for asylum in the Netherlands is increasing rapidly. A massive 3,100 refugees applied for asylum in the Netherlands last week, a spokesperson for the central agency for the reception of asylum seekers COA told news wire ANP.  A week earlier about 1,800 refugees arrived in the country. Throughout the summer the average was between 1,000 and 1,500 a week. Most of the refugees are from Syria.



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