Contribution from the National Network Focal Point in The Netherlands, IOM
On the 15th of April 2014, the Dutch Minister of Security and Justice, Fred Teeven issued a letter to the Speaker of the Lower House of Parliament. This letter was a reaction to increasing pressure on European States to respond to the number of Syrian refugees in need of security. Teeven specifically mentioned the requests by UNHCR for states to increase their resettlement quotas, and provide other forms of admission and temporary arrangements for Syrian family members of Dutch residents.
Minister Teeven noted that The Netherlands assists victims of the Syrian crisis in a number of ways, including the donation of 76.5 million EUR as humanitarian aid for displaced persons, and the contribution of 33 million EUR to UNHCR during the year 2014. During 2013, the Dutch government committed to accepting 250 refugees from Syria within its quota of 1000 for the years 2013-2014. The Netherlands has also approved a large number of asylum seekers from the region, resulting in its position as number 5 of the countries who accept the largest number of Syrian asylum applications.
He further mentioned that the Netherlands will continue to support Syrians in need, and that he intends to visit Lebanon in July this year during a Dutch selection mission in the framework of the resettlement programme. After this, it is expected that Minister Teeven will reassess if the annual resettlement quota of 500 will be increased to allow for greater numbers of refugees to resettle in the Netherlands. Consequently, the international community will have to wait until approximately September to learn if the Netherlands will increase its annual resettlement quota to more than 500 places.
Reacting to UNHCR’s suggestion of temporary shelter in the Netherlands for Syrian family members, Teeven was less positive, mentioning the difficulties in ensuring that these temporary residents will return once the country has stabilised. However in an effort to aid family reunification of Syrian nationals, families in the Netherlands can approach UNHCR with requests for family reunification of Syrian family members with refugee status. Syrian diaspora groups have been informed of this initiative.
To read Minister Teeven's letter in Dutch please click here.