The Netherlands has unilaterally decided to suspend the reception of asylum seekers from Türkiye despite the EU-Türkiye deal.
The Netherlands will “no longer admit people under the EU-Turkey Statement until the end of 2023,” the country’s Justice and Security Ministry said Friday.
The Netherlands has admitted “a relatively large number of Syrians” since 2016 under the EU-Türkiye Readmission Agreement, it said.
The agreement that was signed in March 2016, said Ankara is supposed to readmit all irregular asylum-seekers who reach the Greek islands from Türkiye. In exchange, the European Union agreed to resettle Syrian refugees from Türkiye.
The Dutch government continues to consider “these agreements important and will also start implementing them again from 2024. But in the current situation that is irresponsible,” it added.
“A solid package of measures should improve our asylum reception and the situation in Ter Apel as quickly as possible. With support from the region, we are taking the necessary steps to handle asylum procedures in a humane and dignified manner,” State Secretary for Justice and Security Eric van der Burg wrote on Twitter.
The Cabinet decided to take measures to alleviate the reception of asylum seekers amid the situation at the asylum application center in Ter Apel, which lasted for months and turned into a national crisis.
While the Dutch government was attempting to address the problem, the Dutch Red Cross set up tents in the garden of the center because of the lack of beds but removed them following backlash.
Despite the removal of the tents, many refugees, including women, children and the elderly, continued to sleep in the garden.
The government has been struggling to find places for asylum seekers due to the lack of space at asylum centers and the inability of municipalities to provide shelter for refugees.
While the government was attempting to facilitate the transfer of a hotel purchased in the village of Albergen to the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers to accommodate 300 refugees, it faced protests from residents.
In addition, Van der Burg had proposed to turn cruisers into temporary accommodation centers to help resolve the problem.
In March 2016, the EU and Türkiye reached an agreement to stop irregular migration through the Aegean Sea and improve the conditions of more than 3 million Syrian refugees in Türkiye.
The deal has been successful in stemming the flow of migrants and refugees, but the EU’s reluctance to take in refugees from Türkiye, and bureaucratic hurdles in transferring promised funds for refugees, have led to sharp criticism from Turkish politicians.
Ankara criticized the EU for failing to fulfill its pledge to provide funding for migrants and refugees in Türkiye as part of the pact while allocating billions of euros to Greece.
Six years on, the pact is failing as Türkiye struggles with increased numbers of migrants, while the EU is more divided than ever over its asylum policy.
Türkiye currently hosts 5 million migrants, with nearly 4 million from Syria, its migration authority says. That’s 2 million more than in 2016 and a heavy burden on a country that only had 60,000 asylum-seekers in 2011 before Syria’s civil war broke out.