The political solution found on Thursday by the governing parties for the homeless migrants from the refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos is leading to fierce discussions, in politics and beyond.
The Netherlands has declared itself willing to receive 100 migrants from the burnt down Greek refugee camp in Moria. These are fifty children under the age of 14 and fifty people from ‘vulnerable’ families with small children. The condition is that they already had a good chance of refugee status,
After a day of political tension in the Lower House, this was the compromise on which the VVD, CDA, D66 and ChristenUnie were able to agree.
However, the plan was not received with the agreement of the other political parties. The ‘deal’, as the agreement was called by the opposition parties, also revealed the divisions within the governing coalition, as was evident in an eventful parliamentary debate last night.
In particular, the fact that the Netherlands does not receive 100 extra people, but that this number is deducted from the agreed 500 refugees designated by the UNHCR, caused a lot of resistance from some of the opposition parties.
GroenLinks, Denk, SP and PvdA called this a cigar from their own box and horse-trading. They believe that the exceptional situation of the fires in the Moria reception centre should lead to the acute reception of additional asylum seekers. We are not even talking about a roof over their heads what these people have lost, but about a tent, said PvdA MP Kuiken.
Government party D66 and ChristenUnie said in the parliamentary debate that they would have liked more, but that this was not politically feasible. ChristenUnie MP Voordewind said to the critical opposition. But in a political coalition you have to give and take
D66, too, would have preferred more. This is a small step, said MP Groothuizen. I am not entirely happy with this either. But the care of children was unmentionable at first, and it is now going to happen anyway, says the party.
The VVD is satisfied with the agreement. No more refugees are coming to the Netherlands than had already been agreed. In addition, the asylum procedure will be tightened up and status holders who commit criminal offences can be deported sooner.
The VVD, too, could count on criticism, however. The PVV believes that the whole situation shows that the so-called ‘Turkey deal’ is not working. The party also believes that arson by asylum seekers is now rewarded.
The parties in government maintain that their agreement will in any case lead to the direct reception of victims of the fires in Moria.
Refugee organisations that have been sounding the alarm about the conditions in the Moria camp for some time now call the agreement of the ruling parties ‘shameful’. The agreement means that one hundred fewer refugees can come to the Netherlands, says the director of the Tineke Ceelen Refugee Foundation.
Asylum lawyer Wil Eikelboom calls the agreement an empty shell, because the number is deducted from the 500 refugees that the Netherlands would already receive. And it has not been said that these hundred can actually stay.
For the 100 children and family members who may come to the Netherlands, the situation is not yet clear. First, the Greek government has to make an official request and then another fifty children have to be selected who are allowed to go to Dutch reception in Greece and will be screened. Only then can the journey to the Netherlands begin.