Afghan nationals who worked for the Dutch embassy in Kabul and are now in the Netherlands as refugees have all been sacked and told they have to pay part of their redundancy package towards their keep in refugee centres, news website Nu.nl reported on Thursday.
In total 37 embassy workers and their families came to the Netherlands last August and were taken to a former military barracks in Zoutkamp, northern Groningen. Two weeks later, a delegation from the foreign affairs ministry informed them that they were no longer employed.
‘We were shocked and saddened,’ one worker told Nu.nl. ‘Some of us had worked for the embassy for 20 years.’
In line with Dutch law, the former workers were entitled to a pay-off but have now discovered that a proportion of that must go to the refugee settlement agency COA to pay for their board and lodgings.
If a single refugee has more than €6,505 or a family €13,010, they are required to help pay for their upkeep.
Labour MP Kati Piri told Nu.nl that even though the contributions are within the rules they are being applied in a ‘heartless fashion’.
‘There is lack of any moral awareness,’ she said. ‘The minister must change this policy immediately.’
The 37 families have also been moved to different locations several times since their arrival – from Zoutkamp to Harskamp, then back to Zoutkamp and now to different refugee centres nationwide.
‘Everyone has to restart their language and driving lessons,’ one refugee told Nu.nl. ‘We find jobs but then we are moved and the job is gone.’
Yannick du Pont, from the Spark foundation which is helping the Afghans, told Nu.nl that in the Netherlands, the system not the individual is central. ‘The refugees are in second place,’ he said. ‘They are the ball in a political game. Four or five different organisations have responsibility but no one is picking up the ball.’
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