The new Dutch Minister for Foreign Affairs Halbe Zijlstra undertook an introductory visit in the Israeli and Palestinian territories last Wednesday and Thursday. During his visit he met with the tormented Palestinians of the West Bank. Now that the peace process with Israel is sent to an halt, Palestinians ask for help to the Netherlands.
The VVD, CDA, D66 and ChristenUnie are now really very almost done with their government agreement, ChristenUnie leader Gert-Jan Segers said to NOS on Friday afternoon. But he thinks the four parties will have to meet again on Monday.
There will be no meetings over the weekend. The ChristenUnie respects the Sunday rest. "And on Saturday I have other plans", Segers said to the broadcaster.
As the new Dutch government prepares to present its government agreement, more and more of the VVD, CDA, D66 and ChristenUnie's plans are leaking to the press. On Monday we've learned that the new government plans more changes to the asylum policy and is giving more money to security.
The Rutte III government is changing the immigration policy, specifically they're limiting immigrants' access to benefits. The VVD, CDA, D66 and ChristenUnie are also increasing the low VAT rate from 6 percent to 9 percent, RTL Nieuws reports.
The Dutch government made money available to provide emergency relief to the Rohingya population fleeing from Myanmar, Minister Lilianne Ploumen of Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade announced at her meeting with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in Amsterdam on Thursday.
"The images on TV say enough. Anxious fathers and mothers fleeing with their children in overcrowded boats. With so much human suffering, we can not remain insensitive and ignore the call of aid organizations to do more", Ploumen said.
The number of people in the Netherlands receiving welfare benefits continues to rise, Statistics Netherlands reported on Thursday. Between June 2016 and June 2017, this group increased by 12 thousand people to a total of 472 thousand welfare recipients. The increase is smaller than in previous years, the stats office added.
The number of children in the Netherlands growing up in a family that receives welfare benefits increased by 2.1 percent to a total of 230 thousand last year, Statistics Netherlands reported on Friday. This number increased every year since 2012.
More than two thirds of children who lived on welfare last year had an immigration background. Half of this group fall under the "other non-western category", compared to 39 percent in 2012. In this category the stats office includes all non-western countries except Morocco, Suriname, Turkey, Aruba and the former Dutch Antilles.
Dutch swimming union KNZB is calling for obligatory swimming lessons for asylum seekers, following the drowning of a 16-year-old Syrian boy in a swimming pool in Venlo on Monday. The union doesn't necessarily want every asylum seekers to get a swimming diploma, but "every child must get compulsory experience with water and swimming", Alice Schols of the KNZB said to RTL Nieuws.
Dutch refugee organization VluchtelingenWerk and ice cream brand Ben & Jerry's are working together to try and convince European politicians to take in more vulnerable asylum seekers from shelters across the world. Today they launched a campaign titled Home Safe Home, AD reports.
"This is one of the biggest problems of this moment. We are talking about it in the Netherlands for the first time. We have young supporters and we want to activate them for this", Laura van Geel, social mission manager of Ben & Jerry's said to the newspaper.
The number of welfare recipients in the Netherlands increased to 474 thousand in the first quarter of this year, Statistics Netherlands announced on Wednesday. That is 15 thousand more welfare recipients than the same quarter last year. According to the stats office, the increase can mainly be attributed to refugees who haven't been able to find a job.
Amsterdam is investing millions into better managing the ever increasing number of people in the city, both residents and visitors, and into improving quality of life in the city, Finance alderman Udo Kock announced with the publication of the city's budget plans for 2017.
A commemoration for asylum seekers who died in the crossing to Europe arranged for Amsterdam on Thursday evening, at the same time as the national commemoration for WWII victims for Remembrance Day, has been canceled, the initiators announced in an open letter. "Because it was never our intention to commemorate refugees from angry words, we decided to stop our initiative", Matthijs Jaspers said, Het Parool reports.
Amsterdam pastor Rikko Voorberg wants to commemorate killed asylum seekers with 3 thousand white paper crosses on the Rembrandt square in Amsterdam on Remembrance Day. His plan was met by resistance from Jewish organization CIDI and the National Committee for 4 and 5 May, who want to keep the focus of Remembrance Day on victims of World War II, AD reports.
The asylum centers in the Netherlands are increasingly empty, the central agency for the reception of asylum seekers COA said on Thursday. The COA is currently housing some 24 thousand people, while there is place for a total of 45 thousand people, AD reports.
The city of Amsterdam is investing 2 million euros in housing for refugees - asylum seekers who were granted residency permits in the Netherlands. This money will be used as subsidies to encourage developers to turn private real estate into affordable housing, AT5 reports.
Last year the Dutch immigration and naturalization service IND performed 170 investigations into asylum seekers suspected of committing war crimes. In 20 cases the investigation led to the refusal of refugee status and a residency permit, according to figures the Ministry of Security and Justice sent to parliament on Thursday, AD reports.
Some cases are currently being investigated by the Public Prosecutor's International Crimes Team. These suspects may end up being prosecuted in the Netherlands.
The number of welfare recipients in the Netherlands increased by 4 percent last year, according to figures Statistics Netherlands released on Tuesday. At the end of December 2016 the Netherlands counted a total of 467 thousand welfare recipients, 18 thousand more than December 2015.
The growth can mainly be attributed to non-Western immigrants, particularly asylum seekers who were given refugee status in the Netherlands last year. After being given a residency permits, refugees can apply for welfare.
Refugee and asylum children in the Netherlands do not have the same educational opportunities as children born in the Netherlands, the Education Council wrote in advice presented to parliament on Thursday. "Children's right to education should be leading int he asylum procedure", said Henriette Maassen van den Brink, chairwoman of the council, Trouw reports.
Even though Dutch people like to grumble when things do not go their way, the population is generally pretty satisfied about the country, according to a study I&O Research did on behalf of newspaper AD. The survey among more than 6 thousand Dutch found that while there are concerns about contradictions in society, most are positive about the Netherlands' future, AD reports.
The VVD wants more stringent integration requirements in the Netherlands including a total ban on face covering clothing, like burkas and balaclavas, in public. Wearing face covering clothing makes it more difficult for you to openly meet and greet each other, VVD parliamentarian Malik Azmani emphasizes in a broad integration agenda the ruling party is presenting on Thursday, Het Parool reports.
Only lst year Amnesty International fought against unjust regimes in countries like Turkey or Russia. This year the United States is almost at the top of the list and even the Netherlands is climbing in the rankings of countries the organization is concerned about, director Eduard Nazarski said to RTL Nieuws. He specifically mentioned PVV leader Geert Wilders and VVD leader and Prime Minster Mark Rutte.
Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht, united under G4, want to take back control over the integration process. The four large Dutch cities believe that customization is needed for integration to go smoothly, and that is impossible while the process is in the control of the national government, ANP reports.
Opposition parties and even coalition party PvdA have nothing but criticism for current Prime Minister and VVD leader Mark Rutte's "if you don't like it here, then get out" election campaign. PvdA leader and current Deputy Prime Minister Lodewijk Asscher called Rutte a poor substitute for a populist and accused him of sowing cynicism, while people who are dissatisfied should in fact work to improve the situation, NOS reports.
Since a law was passed in 2013 making integration the responsibility of immigrants themselves, only a third of immigrants passed the naturalization exam in time, according to a report by the Netherlands General Court of Audit. The exam is also taken at a lower level than before the law, NU.nl reports.