Defense State Sec. regrets insensitive remarks about Afghan asylum seekers
State Secretary Ankie Broekers-Knol said she regrets statements she made about Afghanistan and Afghan asylum seekers in an interview with newspaper AD this weekend. "I should have worded that more carefully and regret I didn't," she said in a statement.
In the AD interview, the VVD State Secretary said she feared a brain drain if highly-educated people leave Afghanistan. She also said the Dutch asylum system couldn't handle 100 thousand asylum requests.
Broekers-Knol used the same argument the Taliban uses to prevent people from leaving Afghanistan with the brain drain statement. "That is bad for a country, and that is a concern I sincerely feel," she said in her apology statement. "But I should not have mentioned it in the context of this part of the interview, which was mainly about the people who are now trying to leave Afghanistan."
According to the State Secretary, her mention of 100 thousand asylum requests was a "hypothetical calculation." "The message was: if the request for assistance received by email would lead to 100 thousand new asylum seekers, our asylum system would not be able to handle it. But I did not want to prejudge how the Cabinet will deal with requests for help that have come in. I should not have mentioned this hypothetical number of 100 thousand," she said.
"It was my intention to outline the dilemmas associated with the issues surrounding the protection of people in need worldwide and the possibilities for the Netherlands to contribute to this. My comments on the brain drain and reception capacity were meant in a general sense. I should have worded that more carefully and regret I didn't."
Broekers-Knol's remarks received fierce criticism from parliament. Coalition parties CDA, ChristenUnie, and D66, called them "misleading," "very inappropriate and painful," and "horrible," respectively. Opposition party PvdA called the remarks "brainless and heartless."