500 refugees are ‘invited’ to the Netherlands every year

Most of the 500 refugees invited to move to the Netherlands as part of a United Nations resettlement progamme come from Iraq, Myanmar, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Bhutan, the national statistics office CBS said on Thursday.

The refugees, who have often been living for years in camps under very difficult conditions, are invited to the Netherlands after being selected by the UN. They are given residency permits, a place to live and are allowed to work immediately. Some 40% of the invited refugees are children..

This year, 50 refugees from Syria will move to the Netherlands under the scheme, a spokesman for Dutch refugee agency Vluchtelingenwerk told news agency ANP.


Most of the refugees were living UN-run camps. At the end of 2012, the UN’s refugee organisation was looking after over 28 million refugees.

Last year UNHCR was reported as saying that the Netherlands should take more special programme refugees.

In 2011, 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 the ‘invited refugee’ programme which has been running since the 1970s.

By comparison, Sweden took 1,900 and Norway 1,300.

New rules

Last year, then immigration minister Gerd Leers introduced a new criterion for the ‘invited refugee’ scheme, by focusing on newcomers with an ‘integration perspective’.

In 2012, 13,650 people applied for asylum in the Netherlands throught the regular channels, a drop of almost 7% on 2011.

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