Dutch’s Refugee Debate

The other day a friend read this article of The Telegraph “Refugees could be fined or lose residency for failing to uphold Dutch values”, written by Senay Boztas on the 28th of November, retrieved the 29th of November 2015.

On facebook she tagged be and asked what my opinion about it is and this is my reply I’d like to share:

“It’s not so much what I think, but, looking at what factually is happening and putting it in the right context. Besides, this article mixes 3 different issues, which do NOT go hand in hand.

1. History
In the nineties, the housing market was privatized, government became ‘smaller’ so, many social sectors were privatized. In the nineties there was that economic lift and people could afford to buy houses, pay higher rents, and they thought it was cheaper to outsource healthcare instead of having it as a security provided by the state. No more state insurance but private (with state support for the ones who cannot pay it). This undermined the social security for many low paid workers. And now also the corporations were responsible for rent, and how high the rent would be in former social houses.

In the Netherlands, there are no temporary renting contracts, with a few exceptions. So if I rent a house cheap in ’98 which was affordable, and my pay went up big time, I earn ‘too much’ compared with the rent. So it would be fair for me to move to a more expensive house to give lower paid people the opportunity to live affordable (even though the rents went up but that’s in all price categories). That does not happen, so many people who cannot afford higher rent cannot live in the affordable or social sector as they are occupied by the people who can afford a higher rent but they are profiting from the situation. Note, these are all Dutch people, not the refugees nor immigrants. It’s purely a ‘Dutch problem’.

Generally, wages go down, prices go up, lesser social security and that creates unrest in the society.

2. By law everyone who may reside, one way or the other, is equal. By law we cannot discriminate. Meaning that when a asylum-seeker is granted asylum, he or she, has automatically the same rights as everyone else as long as he/she can stay in the country. We have a couple of asylum centers. People go there to go through the process to see if they indeed can stay or not. If they can stay, they have to wait for the same amount of time for a new home as a Dutch person would. I’ll come back on what happens if they have to leave.

Now there are way more people coming than we anticipated on because of the war in Syria. So that group shows the faults in our own governing. Now new houses have to be built, people do need to get money to come by. So then the discussion started, like, wait a minute, why the refugees first while ‘we’ are waiting for 10 years too? There are 600K unemployed, shouldn’t they get a job first? and so on. As there is a gap of 20 years (!!) people don’t remember the changes, new generations don’t know how it used to be and the ‘ignorant’ radicalize to the ‘right’ and blame the refugees, while they don’t have anything to do with it. The refugees are victim too of our own bad political choices of the (recent) past.

13.000 asylum seekers are waiting nearly 10 years for a new home. The centers are full, so they need to move. Those asylum seekers are granted to stay here, nobody complained about it at all in the last 10 years. But, as there now is a big need with too few social spaces, there is friction. This causes the feeling of ‘camps in the region’, well, you and I know how they look like…. As the camps are full, temporary solutions are tried to be implemented, “forcefully”, and because of the fear to the unknown, a certain group, right wing people, protest, often irrationally.

3. Confusion to who is who.
There are political asylum seekers, economic asylum seekers and refugees. There are a number of conditions in any of those groups on who can stay and who cannot. A Russian gay Muslim who is opposing Putin probably can stay for example as his life will be unbearable in Russia.
Someone from Botswana who just want a better job cannot stay as there is no life threatening situation and it’s likely he’s an economic asylum seeker.
Then there are the refugees and they can stay for a period of 5 years, to be evaluated afterwards. Syrians, Eritreans, and some more are nationalities who can seek asylum. These are the largest sum of people coming now, fleeing from bombs and war and misery in local camps.

By law it is also for all groups that “aliens” have to live by the Dutch law and culture. If not, they will be send away anyway. Not just like that of course, but they already need to agree living by ‘our’ way of living as that is the ‘standard’ in which this country functions. If I go to a Malaysian mosque I also need to take my shoes off, while I won’t if I go to a Dutch church, simple example, but it’s just showing the respect for the guest country’s norms. This includes learning the language. But again, any person in another country not knowing the language is ‘handicapped’; even if it’s just a holiday. Send me to Greece and I cannot do anything!

4. Discussion
Should this group, the Syrian refugees, have the same rights and income as other groups who can stay here indefinite? If so, how? If not, are they automatically second rang civilians? What should we do with them? What will happen when the war is over? Etc, etc. Because ‘everyone is equal’ they are having the same rights as everyone else. But now the government tries to sober it by saying to that group, you’re most welcome, yet, you’re in a unique situation and so are we. Therefore you get money to get by, but not the full amount as anyone else.
Note – these people don’t want to do nothing, they want to work, be active and to be part of society! So on top of the amount they are getting, which is enough for a living in an asylum center, they get a bit extra for volunteer work they want to do anyway. However, the money is not enough to fully participate in society.

As the government is in process of getting this clear, which takes too much time, the unrest caused under point 1, is strengthened. The media shows, bombs, rapes, violence, fighting in camps, and all that. But not the good things as volunteer work, seeking support, the positive interactions, which is the norm. So we see, Muslims, Islam, beheading, violence and exactly that group is ‘invading in large numbers’ ‘Islamitization’ ‘Sharia law in the extreme’ and that creates fear, with “Paris” on top of that….. I don’t know the numbers but the largest amount of people causing uproar in the whole debate are the Dutch!! Not the refugees, although things do go wrong there too – no wonder as they just came out of war.

4.1 Refugees and Europe
This is a separate discussion. It is not the Dutch refugee situation that is causing unrest in the EU, but how EU countries are dealing with it. Building fences, spreading refugees over all of the EU and not in a few popular countries. Eastern EU is big, not so dens populated and mainly mono-cultures. The EU never experienced this before but did agree to something that may happen but not well thought through in the agreement phase. So those countries are saying ‘no’ to have refugees and countries like Sweden, Germany, Austria and the EU boarder countries are feeling bad about it as they can’t get help from the stubborn countries. That is what the PM was referring to, that this may cause the EU to fail by not keeping agreements. Actions do have consequences, also in unforeseen situations like these.

4.2 Discussion what if an asylum seeker is denied asylum?
Then they have to leave. But in some cases, we talk not even about 1000 people, they don’t want and won’t go. They disagree with the verdict as they have their, often valid, reasons for it. The state pulls their hands off that group and leave them by themselves. On the street without a roof nor money, nor shower, plain nothing. The highest court said that this is unacceptable and that the state does need to provide a meal, sanitation and a bed. Now it’s been bent a bit into, yes, we can, but, they do need to cooperate in leaving the country. Municipalities don’t agree as they have the actual problem and still will provide the most basic care.

5. Personal, or voting gain
Many politicians are yelling one liners in the media. About boarders about money about this about that and that’s more for political gain than really finding solutions to the problem. The news just takes it over without even looking for consequences if all those one-liners would be reality.

Basically, the headline of this article is referring to a law from just after WW2. The government suggested to print that law in Arabic together with the constitution so the refugees would know already what the laws and “culture” is of the Netherlands. The whole debate is so confusing, miss information, bent facts and numbers, one-liners, no solutions, and not taking blame for government’s own mistakes of the past. Ah to me mistakes as the “liberals” think all is fantastic.

This is what really is going on, but in all that confusion, ignorance and blaming a large group of people are scared and act out of fear with violent one-liners as all the replies below {on facebook}. Horrific to read it. It shouldn’t be that way; it’s just thinking common sense, looking back to own history and seeing consequences of actions. Then everyone can realize that there was a problem already, the refugees, unconsciously, point it out and it is our own government’s actions we must fear and not the refugees.

We must take care of them for at least the 5 years they can stay here, help them having the war out of their heads, plan and find solutions how they can rebuild their country again when there is peace. But by far most important – there needs to be peace and that has to come from all of humanity.

These are my couple of cents in the debate.


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