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The Netherlands opens borders to 100 refugees affected by Moria fire

The Netherlands opens borders to 100 refugees affected by Moria fire

The Netherlands opens borders to 100 refugees affected by Moria fire

The Dutch government has agreed to take in 100 refugees who were affected by the tragic fires in the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos. 50 of these refugees will be unaccompanied minors (under the age of 14). 

The Netherlands to accept 100 refugees

Europe’s largest refugee camp, Moria, on the Greek island of Lesbos, was destroyed by fires on September 9, leaving 13.000 people without shelter. Three separate fires are said to have broken out across the camp within a short space of time, before growing and setting almost the whole camp alight. 

In a statement, State Secretary for Justice and Security, Ankie Broekers-Knol, said: “In this exceptional situation, according to the government - and myself too - exceptional steps are needed.” The Netherlands had already made one million euros available for emergency aid in Greece, and has now agreed to take on 100 refugees who have been affected by the fires. 

Of the 100 refugees, 50 will be unaccompanied minors. The other 50 will be made up of families with children under the age of 14. Broekers-Knol said it was possible to take this number because fewer people have been relocating to the Netherlands during the coronavirus pandemic. However, a condition has been set, that 100 of the 500 refugees the Netherlands was due to welcome in 2021 will not be allowed to enter the country. 

Criticism for Dutch government’s decision

The government’s decision has faced some serious backlash, and a number of refugee organisations in the Netherlands feel the country is not doing enough. “I find it really shameful that so few refugees are allowed to come to the Netherlands after such a catastrophe in Lesbos,” Tineke Ceelen, director of the Refugee Foundation (Stichting Vluchteling), told NOS. 

Similarly, the Dutch Council for Refugees have called the offer “empty”, saying a price tag has been attached to the provision of emergency aid: “The reception of refugees from the burnt camp Moria will be at the expense of additional vulnerable refugees who have been selected worldwide because they cannot be properly protected in refugee camps in the region.”

There have also been rifts between Dutch political parties. GroenLinks, D66, Denk, and the Labour Party (PvdA) all said they would have preferred to take on more people. D66 and ChristenUnie - both members of the government coalition - said they had tried to fight for more, but had been forced to compromise. On the other hand, Party for Freedom (PVV), have said that the deal “rewards” arson committed by refugees. 

Victoria Séveno

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Victoria Séveno

Victoria grew up in Amsterdam, before moving to the UK to study English and Related Literature at the University of York and completing her NCTJ course at the Press Association...

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