Netherlands takes first 50 asylum seekers in EU redistribution plan

The first asylum seekers in the European Union refugee redistribution plan are heading from Italy towards the Netherlands. The group of 50 Eritreans will arrive in the Netherlands on two flights, broadcaster NOS reports.

The first flight departed on Friday morning, the second flight will depart around noon. According to the Ministry of Security and Justice, the group consists of Eritrean adults that stand a good chance of gaining refugee status. Dutch officials visited them to prepare them for their arrival in the Netherlands.

Last year the European leaders decided to redistribute 160 thousand asylum seekers over the EU member states to offer some relief to Italy and Greece. This process is taking much longer than expected, as some countries do not want to fulfill the agreements. In the redistribution plan, the Netherlands must offer shelter to 9 thousand redistributed asylum seekers.

The press was not allowed to be present at the asylum seekers' departure "We tried, but the last i heard was that at the express request of the Dutch authorities, the press was not welcome at the airport", correspondent Rop Zoutberg said to the broadcaster. It is not clear why this decision was made. "The Netherlands is EU president since 1 January, so it seems to me that they would have benefited from this to set an example. But perhaps there is fear of protests in the Netherlands if a group is brought over."