Thursday 18 August 2022

Dutch step up preparations for Ukrainian refugees

Cakes sold by children in aid of Ukraine. Photo: DutchNews.nl

The government has invoked national crisis legislation to force local authorities to organise accommodation for Ukrainian refugees by Friday.

Local mayors must also ensure that they register the newcomers and provide them with money to live on, education and healthcare, junior justice minister Eric van der Burg said after Wednesday’s cabinet meeting to discuss the war in Ukraine.

‘In practice nothing much will change because the mayors are already doing a lot voluntarily,’ Van der Burg told broadcaster NOS. However, mayors will not be able to sequester property or housing, as was mooted earlier.

So far, local councils have arranged beds for some 30,000 Ukrainians, of which around two-thirds are currently occupied, according to government figures.

Thousands of private individuals have also come forward to offer beds. Government officials have now drawn up a list of guidelines for people who wish to offer space in their homes to Ukrainian families.

The government earlier said it would wave the paperwork needed for Ukrainians to work in the Netherlands. It has also now agreed that Ukrainian nationals may only work in formal employment, rather than as freelancers, to offer them extra protection against being exploited.

Ministers have also set aside €1.6 mn to pay for interpreters to help Ukrainians needing healthcare.

Ukrainians do not have to formally request asylum in the Netherlands and so have a different legal status to refugees from other war zones, such as Yemen or Syria.

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