SP: 'Governing coalition parties offering too little help to Syrian war refugees’

4 July 2013

SP: 'Governing coalition parties offering too little help to Syrian war refugees’

For SP Member of Parliament Sharon Gesthuizen, Secretary of State For Security and Justice Fred Teeven is giving too little attention to the life-threatening problems by which some 1.7 million Syrian refugees are beset. Referring to the United Nations High Council for Refugees (UNHCR), she says that the organisation ‘has issued an urgent call to the European Union to take in 12,000 Syrian refugees in urgent need or to offer them temporary asylum. I couldn’t believe my ears when Teeven told me this week that the Netherlands is willing to offer aid to no more than 150 refugees in 2013. That’s 2% of the total requested – truly unbelievable!'

Secretary Teeven has stated that he believes the preference should be for offering places of safety within the region. Yet Syria’s neighbouring countries, such as Jordan, Iraq, Turkey and Lebanon are threatening to burst at the seams and can hardly be expected to take in 1.7 million more Syrian refugees. Human Rights Watch even announced this week that a number of these countries have closed their border or tightened up on checks. Moreover, 81% - more than four out of every five – refugees globally are taken in by developing countries. Not only does this mean that there exists an inhuman situation, but the chance that refugees will enter the European Union without authorisation via Turkey is growing constantly.

Sharon GesthuizenGesthuizen pointed out that while the SP shares Teeven’s view that ‘it’s better to find places of safety for refugees in countries which border their own, so that people can as quickly as possible return to their homes, families and friends when it’s safe in their own countries,’ in this case ‘the conditions under which they’re forced now to live in the refugee camps mean that their lives continue to be inhuman. I can simply not believe that the Labour Party’ – partners in government with Teeven’s centre-right VVD, ‘is going along with the handful of refugees that the VVD Secretary of State Fred Teeven is willing to accept. The Netherlands has ordinarily enough room to offer to resettle at least five hundred refugees.’

On Thursday the SP proposed a motion in Parliament to the effect that considerably more vulnerable Syrian refugees should be brought to the Netherlands, but the governing parties rejected it. ‘And this is despite the fact that the SP has been joined by both the Labour Party and the VVD in fighting for a Common European Asylum Policy,’ Gesthuizen notes. ‘So it’s unbelievable that on this point also we’re once again not willing to accept our responsibility, while other member states as well as developing countries are doing just that.’

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