Netherlands scaling up plans for Ukrainian refugees; Rutte to address Ukrainian people
The Netherlands will be "generous" in offering shelter to asylum seekers fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in a press conference on the war on Thursday. He also said that he agreed to a request from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to record a video message for his people.
According to Rutte, the refugee flow is "a very visible consequence" of the war Russia is waging on Ukraine. "Poland currently absorbs the vast majority, but the Netherlands will also deal with it. We will generously offer shelter. The first inflow is already being sheltered. In the coming days, we will scale up where necessary," he said. He said that the first Ukrainian asylum seekers are being sheltered in the Harskamp in Ede.
The Netherlands also offered Poland assistance in receiving the many people fleeing Ukraine, ANP reported. Rutte discussed the matter with Polish President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki over the past few days. Hosting so many refugees is "an enormous amount of work," Rutte said. "If we can help with the reception in Poland, we will of course do everything we can."
Rutte spoke with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy again on Wednesday. "I reaffirmed our full support, and I said that I have tremendous respect for his leadership and everyone who has risen up in Ukraine," Rutte said. Zelensky asked him to record a video message for the Ukrainian people. Rutte will do so this afternoon, after a Cabinet meeting on the war in Ukraine. He wouldn't elaborate on what he'd say in the video.
The Dutch Prime Minister again called the situation in Ukraine terrible. "Russian aggression is totally unprecedented," he said. That aggression is also increasingly focused on civilians, Rutte said. "We have all seen the images of the attack on the mediators in Kyiv, but also the destruction of civilian buildings, government targets, and apartment complexes in Kharkiv. These are images that are etched in all our minds and that we will never forget."
Rutte and Foreign Affairs Minister Wopke Hoekstra asked the United Nations to set up a committee to map out what is happening in Ukraine and identify any war crimes. Rutte also stressed the importance of collecting evidence of possible war crimes when speaking to Zelenskyy on Wednesday. "Human rights violations must not go unpunished. Justice must run its course," Rutte said.
The Dutch Prime Minister stressed the "great degree of unity among the EU and our allies." The sanctions imposed are becoming more and more visible in Russia, he said.