Some 100,000 Ukrainian nationals who fled to the Netherlands after the Russian invasion are allowed to remain in the Netherlands with no strings, but third-country nationals who lived in Ukraine and fled with them are now being told to return to their own countries.
From September 4, the group of some 4,500 third-country nationals will no longer have the right to work in the Netherlands or to live in local authority-run accommodation. Instead, they are being offered €2000 to go home or told to apply formally for asylum.
So far, 70 people have signed up for the financial package (which was €5,000 in June) and several dozen have left already. But most want to stay in the Netherlands and are planning legal action against having their rights removed.
“The junior minister could have excluded this group from the start, but cannot do this now,” lawyer Marjon Ristra-Peeters told broadcaster NOS. “You cannot give people rights and then take them away.”
The minister, Eric van der Burg, has said that many of the people with a temporary visa to work or study in Ukraine can return to their home countries. And those who fear persecution can always apply for asylum in the Netherlands, he said.
They will then have to report to Ter Apel, start the asylum process in the Netherlands and move into refugee accommodation.
Most of those who have been told to leave the Netherlands come from Nigeria, followed by Morocco, Algeria, Turkmenistan and India, NOS said. Around 100 come from Syria and Yemen.
Shima Sandi from Iran, who was on the verge of starting a career as a dentist in Ukraine, told Nieuwsuur earlier that people like her would never have left Ukraine if it had not been for the invasion.
“We considered it our second home,” she said. “We had a life and a future there.”
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