Dutch government pause in Turkey deal is ‘shameful’: Deal architect

The Netherlands announced on Friday that it would temporarily stop taking in asylum seekers under the agreement reached with Turkey. The craftsman of the agreement described this decision as “prejudicial and shameful”, according to the NOS.

The government’s plan to deal with the asylum crisis in the Netherlands includes suspending the reception of more than 1,000 refugees a year from camps in Turkey. The measure will apply until 2023 and will be reassessed in July next year, Eric van der Burg, state secretary for asylum policy, announced on Friday.

Migration expert Gerald Knaus, who proposed the deal, said the new plan was “not very constructive”. He pointed out that, relative to the number of inhabitants, the Netherlands actually hosts far fewer refugees than other EU countries.

“The number of refugees [the Netherlands takes in] is not very high,” Knaus told NOS. “There is absolutely no urgency, 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 unable to travel during the coronavirus pandemic. CBS says part of the reason for the crisis lies in the gradual closing of reception centers.

Under the deal with Turkey, authorities are allowed to send an asylum seeker back to Turkey if they are caught reaching the Greek islands. For every person returned, EU member states must accept one person waiting inside Turkey. The agreement was supposed to end the illegal and dangerous migration of refugees from Turkey to Greece.

The fact that the Netherlands no longer keeps its end of the bargain is a “disgrace”, Knaus said. “We should be very concerned about our attitude towards people fleeing. Resistance against asylum seekers is growing everywhere. A wealthy EU country that is not ready to take in a small number of people does not give a good example to Turkey.”

About Byron G. Fazio

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