The United Nations Refuge Agency UNHCR wants the Netherlands to take more special programme refugees and says immigration minister Gerd Leers’ policy goes against the grain of what the agency does, Trouw reports on Tuesday.
Last year, 80,000 refugees were relocated to a new country because they were unable to move to a safer country without help. The Netherlands took 500 of them under its ‘invited refugee’ programme which has been running since the 1970s.
‘That is not many,’ René Bruin of UNHCR Nederland told Trouw. In comparison, Sweden took 1,900 and Norway 1,300.
In addition, the Netherlands has become more choosy about which refugees it will admit under the programme. In February, Leers introduced a new criterion for the ‘invited refugee’ scheme, by focusing on newcomers with an ‘integration perspective’.
While the UNHCR does look at integration problems it is against ‘cherry-picking’ the best refugees, Bruin said. ‘Protection is paramount,’ he told the paper.
Nevertheless, Leers’ idea of giving cultural orientation lessons before a refugee leaves his own country does meet with approval. That way, they learn something of the language and the country which helps temper high expectations, Bruin said. ‘The find out just how many days a year it is warm here and that integrating is difficult.’