Dutch gov't hitting pause on Turkey agreement is 'disgraceful': Architect of deal
The Netherlands announced on Friday it would temporarily stop taking asylum seekers under the Turkey agreement. The architect of the agreement has criticized this move as "harmful and disgraceful," according to the NOS.
The government's plan to deal with the asylum crisis in the Netherlands includes pausing the reception of over 1,000 refugees per year from camps in Turkey. The measure will apply through 2023 and be re-evaluated in July of next year, Eric van der Burg, the state secretary in charge of asylum policy, announced on Friday.
Migration expert Gerald Knaus, who came up with the deal, said the new plan was "not very constructive." He pointed out that, per the number of inhabitants, the Netherlands actually takes in far fewer refugees than other EU countries.
"The numbers of refugees [the Netherlands takes in] is not very high," Knaus told the NOS. "There is absolutely no emergency, so it is a mystery to me why there is suddenly a crisis in the Netherlands."
The Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) also found that the number of asylum seekers in the Netherlands has stabilized since around 2015, according to the NOS. Around 7,500 people come per quarter, including relatives of people already in the Netherlands, who were not able to travel during the coronavirus pandemic. The CBS says the reason for the crisis lies in part with the phasing out of reception centers.
Under the Turkey agreement, authorities are allowed to return an asylum seeker to Turkey if they are caught trying to reach the islands of Greece. For each person returned, the EU Member States has to accept one person waiting inside Turkey. The deal was supposed to end illegal, unsafe migration of refugees from Turkey to Greece.
The fact that the Netherlands will now not hold up its end of the bargain is a "disgrace," Knaus said. "We should be very concerned about our attitude toward people who flee. The resistance against asylum seekers is growing everywhere. A rich EU country that is not prepared to take in small numbers of people does not set a good example for Turkey."