Political in-fighting over fate of orphans in Greek refugee camps

Child asylum seekers in Greece
Child asylum seekers in GreecevverveDepositPhotosDeposit Photos

Taking in orphaned child asylum seekers from refugee camps in Greece is causing conflict within coalition party CDA. The national faction of the Christian democrats is set against it. On Tuesday over 40 local and provincial CDA factions called on party leader Pieter Heerma and party chairman Rutger Ploum to change their mind and bring 500 orphaned children to the Netherlands, Trouw reports.

In October last year, Greece asked EU member states to help provide shelter for 2,500 children. Multiple countries already did so. Earlier this month the government decided not to take children from the overcrowded Greek refugee camps, but instead provide financial help on the spot. This is despite the fact that dozens of Dutch municipalities said they would shelter these children. According to the newspaper, coalition parties D66 and ChristenUnie would have preferred to bring the kids to the Netherlands. But the CDA and VVD together outnumbered and outvoted them. 

Now it seems that the CDA is not so firmly against taking in orphaned children as the national faction would have it look. The reason for the call to the national CDA to change its mind is simple, Klaas Valkering, CDA alderman in Bergen and spokesperson for the signatories, said to Trouw. "Because they are orphans, that's why. We find that it does not fit with our beliefs to leave them in those overcrowded camps, where there are all kinds of abuses and the situation deteriorates from day to day. European solidarity is not only that Dutch coronavirus patients can be placed in German intensive care units," he said.

A number of the signatories raised concerns that the national CDA is leaning increasingly towards the right and losing its identity, according to the newspaper. They compared this situation with the children's pardon last year. The national CDA eventually buckled and supported the children's pardon after enormous pressure from local factions and church campaigns.