Green party's strong stance on migration praised by Radboud Univ. professor, local parties
While GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver's firm stance on not making deals with north African countries on asylum seekers may have annoyed many of the other party leaders, his commitment to his his ideals impressed local GroenLinks factions and gained praise from a number of migration experts, including a professor at Radboud university.
The Dutch government formation talks between the VVD, CDA, D66 and GroenLinks collapsed again earlier this week. And again the problem was the asylum policy. The VVD and CDA want to make deals with North African countries - like Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan, Somalia and Eritrea - on shelter for asylum seekers in the region. Jesse Klaver and GroenLinks are firmly opposed to this.
Klaver fears that the local authorities will not be able to adequately protect the asylum seekers under their care, and that any agreements made with the North African regimes will be very difficult to enforce. Instead he wants the Netherlands to take in more asylum seekers. "We will not send anyone back to countries where it is unsafe", Klaver said in the Tweede Kamer on Tuesday.
GroenLinks faction leader in Amsterdam, Rutger Groot Wassink, is happy that Klaver is sticking to the party's ideals. "We are responsible for our humanity, which is far more important", he said in an interview with Het Parool. "The question is not whether we want to participate [in the national government], but at what price. No one can be surprised that we have a bottom line for the shelter of asylum seekers."
Henk van Houtum, expert in European border policy and professor at Radboud University, thinks that Klaver definitely has the right idea about asylum deals with North Africa. "Deals with shady, North African regimes are legally untenable and extremely unwise", he said to Financieele Dagblad. "It is known that regimes in Libya, Sudan and Eritrea do not take human rights very seriously. Nevertheless the Netherlands want North African countries to be responsible for the asylum seekers that the Netherlands is apparently to full for."
Van Houtum is also concerned that by making such deals, the Netherlands is opening itself up to be pressured by the North African regimes. "Just look at the deal that the EU has with Turkey. That deal is a humanitarian nightmare and only strengthened Erdogan's position." Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened several times that he will cancel the asylum agreement if he doesn't get his way.
Fransje Molenaar, migration expert at think tank Clingendael, is surprised that VVD leader Mark Rutte considers the Turkey asylum agreement a success. It did reduce the number of asylum seekers arriving in the Netherlands, but human rights organization Amnesty International described the situation asylum seekers face in Turkey as a "blueprint for despair".
"That deal proves that neither the EU nor the Netherlands are able to make good arrangement for local asylum reception. If cooperation with Turkey can't get off the ground, why would it succeed with North African countries?" Molenaar said to FD, adding that she is 100 percent against deals with North African countries. Such deals will not solve the underlying problem. "Deals are often temporary, so asylum seekers will continue to come to the Netherlands."
According to Arjan Hehenkamp, director of Doctors Without Borders in the Netherlands, the reason that asylum seekers continue to seek asylum in Europe, is that the other countries already shelter "really a lot" of asylum seekers. "African and Asian countries shelter 90 percent of all refugees. They offer little help and no perspective, but can not do anything more", he said to FD.
Hehekamp is against deals with North African countries, but calls for more financial supports and better local policies to improve local shelters and integration. "Asylum seekers in Lebanon, Turkey and South Sudan are in dire conditions, waiting for nothing. They can not build up any form of existence and have no chance of integrating. If the Netherlands and the EU support countries in giving asylum seekers more opportunities, fewer may come to the Netherlands."