the time being, the cabinet does not intend to offer countries such as Poland and Hungary to “take over” Ukrainian refugees. In a debate, several MPs asked Secretary of State Van der Burg for Justice and Security whether those countries should not be relieved, because they are already taking up huge numbers of Ukrainians.
In Poland, for example, there are now about 2 million. But Van der Burg said that Poland and Hungary have so far not asked for such a ‘redistribution’ and that now the cabinet will not offer it on its own.
The European Commission and Poland have asked the Netherlands to accommodate Ukrainians if they express their desire to travel from Poland. Van der Burg has pledged to do so in such a case. He added that Ukrainians who want to travel through Germany to the Netherlands by train from Poland do not have to pay travel expenses.
Poland and the EU welcome Ukrainian refugees with open arms. But at the same time, refugees are still trapped at the border with Belarus. Correspondent Arjen van der Horst spoke to an Iraqi migrant:
The Secretary of State stressed that he constantly talks about the situation with various people and agencies. There will be another consultation with his European colleagues on Monday.
Van der Burg said that the Netherlands makes an exception for Ukrainian refugees in Moldova. The cabinet announced on Monday that the Netherlands will take over about 500 from that group; other EU countries take care of a total of 14,000. The Secretary of State added that Moldova is now taking the most Ukrainians per capita, while being the poorest country in Europe.
“Seriously more than 50,000 places”
In the debate, Van der Burg also said that municipalities have so far arranged 26,000 places for Ukrainian refugees together and that this should be up to 50,000. He takes into account that “seriously much more” places are needed in the longer term. The cabinet looks at whether, for example, people can also be accommodated in vacant state buildings.
Van der Burg stressed that he cannot force municipalities to provide housing for Ukrainians, as little as for ‘regular‘ refugees from other countries. He is concerned about the latter group: until April 1, which is already next week, he will be short of a thousand places for their shelter and until 1 July 3500. He hopes that municipalities will continue to register to arrange care for them as well. If municipalities only want to house Ukrainians and no other groups, that is allowed.