Pressure mounts on minister over Greek island refugees following fire

Refugees and migrants wake up after spending the night on the road near the Moria camp. Photo: Louisa Gouliamaki AFP via ANP
Refugees wake up after spending the night near the Moria camp. Photo: Louisa Gouliamaki AFP via ANP

MPs will on Thursday afternoon debate the Dutch government’s response to the fires at the massive refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, in particular the continuing refusal of the coalition to take in any of the children living there.

MPs from across the political spectrum backed calls for the debate with junior justice minister Ankie Broekers-Knol. She has continually said that the Netherlands will not take in any of the children living in the camp without parents or guardians, a position she reiterated on Wednesday.

‘This is the time to show leadership and offer these people safety,’ GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver said. ‘The Greek government has been calling for more help for these refugees for months. What are we waiting for?’

The coalition is divided over what do to about the children, with D66 and ChristenUnie backing calls to bring 500 to the Netherlands.

However, the government has consistently rejected calls to take in at least 500 child refugees despite offers from numerous local authorities, saying it prefers to help ‘on the ground’, for instance by organising foster care for the children with Greek families on the main land.

Other European countries, such as France, Finland, Portugal, Germany and Luxembourg have already taken in a number of child refugees.

Trade minister Sigrid Kaag has already allocated €1m to the relief effort on the island.

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