Back-up failures led to emergency 112 phone line breakdown

A system breakdown was responsible for the problems with KPN phone networks on Monday and three back-up systems for the 112 emergency number all failed to work, justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus told MPs on Tuesday afternoon. The initial analyses show that something went wrong in the back-ups,’ Grapperhaus said. KPN is now trying to establish what happened and, the minister said, the results of that investigation will be double checked. The breakdown meant that the 112 emergency phone line was out of action for several hours and the emergency services resorted to using other numbers. MPs called on the minister to overhaul the emergency number system but Grapperhaus declined to comment on alternative plans, pending the outcome of the review.   More >

Nine children with measles on Urk

Nine children and one adult have been diagnosed with measles in the village of Urk, most of whom had not been vaccinated against the disease. Urk, a former island, is one of the most staunchly Protestant parts of the country and a place where many parents do not have their children vaccinated for religious reasons. Just 60% of two-year-olds on the island have had all the recommended childhood vaccination. Three of the children had been given at least one vaccination, broadcaster NOS rsaid. The 10 people infected with measles come from two families which had close links and no other cases have been found on the island. This means it is not an outbreak, the local health board told website The last measles outbreak on Urk was in 2013, in a year in which 30,000 people nationwide were diagnosed with the disease.  More >

One in five Dutch churches have new role

One in five churches in the Netherlands are no longer used as a place of worship and most have been turned into homes or cultural centres, according to research by Trouw. The Netherlands has some 6,900 churches and 1,400 have been given another function over the years. Experts expect more churches to be de-consecrated in the coming years as the population ages. Last year, national statistics office CBS said religion had become a minority pursuit in the Netherlands as the number of people identifying with a religious faith dropped below 50% for the first time. Roman Catholics remain the largest religious group, comprising 24% of the population, while 6% of Dutch people identified as Protestant and 5% as Muslim.   More >

Pig farmer pay-offs agreed by cabinet

The cabinet will announce plans to cut the number of pigs in the Netherlands from 12 million to 10.5 million when it outlines measures to meet climate targets on Friday, the AD reported. In total, €60m is being set aside to help pig farmers who want to leave the business and €70m has been allocated to farmers who want to use more sustainable farming methods and reduce the size of their herds, the AD said. Sources told the AD that ministers consider reducing the amount of livestock in the Netherlands is a key part of meeting targets on nitrogen emissions and on cutting carbon dioxide. Reducing the amount of livestock has always been a controversial issue but now ministers have agreed to buy out farmers who want to quit the business, the paper said.   More >

Wilders' anti-Moroccan court case to open

Appeal court judges are due today to begin hearings in the Geert Wilders ‘fewer Moroccans’ case, as the PVV leader re-starts an appeal against his earlier conviction. However, recent claims of possible political interference may result in further delays to the case, observers said. Broadcaster RTL Nieuws and the Telegraaf newspaper have both reported there was contact between the then-justice minister Ivo Opstelten and the head of the public prosecution department about the case in 2014. They also say Opstelten was keen to see Wilders prosecuted for leading the anti-Moroccan chant at a pre-election meeting. The original appeal began in May last year but Wilders' legal team successfully applied for the judges to be removed after alleging bias. The court had refused to delay the trial so that more research could be carried out into the decision not to prosecute D66 leader Alexander Pechtold for comments he made about Russians. 2014 The ‘fewer Moroccans’ case dates back to 2014 when Wilders asked a roomful of supporters if they wanted to have ‘more or fewer’ Moroccans in the country. When the crowd shouted back: ‘Fewer, fewer,’ Wilders responded: ‘We’ll take care of that.’ In December 2016, Wilders was found guilty of inciting discrimination against Dutch Moroccans. A panel of three judges said Wilders’s comments were ‘demeaning and insulting to the Moroccan population’. However, the court decided not to fine or sentence Wilders on the basis that a criminal conviction was sufficient punishment in itself.  More >

Suicide rate drops among men and teens

There was a significant drop in the number of men and teenagers committing suicide in the Netherlands last year, but a slight rise in the number of women ending their lives, the national statistics office CBS said on Tuesday. In total, 1,176 men committed suicide, a drop of 10% on 2017. Among teenagers the number of suicide deaths fell from 81 in 2017 to 51. Slightly more women killed themselves, taking the national total to 1,829. The reduction last year means the number of suicides is back at the 2012 level of 10.6 per 100,000. In the early 1980s the rate was as high as 14.5 per 100,000, the CBS said. If you, or someone you know, needs help, you can contact 0900 0113 (available 24/7) or to go website  More >