Afghan embassy staff have to pay for accommodation in asylum seekers centers | Currently

Former Afghan employees of the Dutch embassy in Kabul who were evacuated last year have to pay for their accommodation in asylum seekers’ centers. They previously received severance payments from the Dutch government, which they now have to pay for food and lodging. PvdA Representative Katy Perry: “I find taking severance pay for shelter very painful.”

37 Afghan embassy staff and their families arrived in the Netherlands at the end of August last year. Then they were taken to the asylum shelter in Zutkamp. Two weeks after their arrival, a delegation from the State Department arrived. The Afghans were handed a letter of resignation.

“We were shocked and sad too,” said a former embassy employee. “Some of us have been working at the embassy for 20 years. We looked at each other and said: What’s going on here?”

According to a spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry, in the spring of 2021, former employees of the Dutch embassy were already informed of the scenario that they would leave work if the embassy was closed or downsized.

The ministry says it has informed former employees several times

Embassy employees who have been notified of their dismissal are entitled – as is the norm in the Netherlands – to a transition payment. But it now appears that they have to hand over part of this money for food and accommodation to the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA). This is done on the basis of the “contribution to capital” scheme. The ministry also says it has informed former employees several times about this.

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Now that all former Afghan employees have a citizen service number and bank account, the end of service gratuity will be transferred. On May 31, the Ministry explained to them that they would therefore have to pay a contribution to the COA.

If the asylum seeker has more than 6,505 euros (for families over 13,010 euros), this must be reported. COA determines on a case-by-case basis the amount that must be paid for food and lodging.

“It’s by the rules, but it’s very sad”

Representative Katy Perry is angry with the BVDA. “Instead of operating on the notion that we owe an honorable debt to these people, the rules are once again being heartlessly enforced. And all moral sense is lost. The Secretary must amend this policy immediately.”

Yannick du Pont of the Spark Foundation, which directs 37 embassy employees to new work, is also unhappy with the situation. “Everything fits the rules, but it is very sad. These people worked for the Dutch government and we brought them here. A number of them planned to use this money to start their own company. It is not possible now.”

In the UK, the campaign began immediately after the evacuations in August last year warm welcome process It started for Afghans who worked with the British government. According to DuPont, “there is not a lot of noticeable support” in the Netherlands.

Pull it out of her hot

Paying for food and lodging is not the only thing that raises eyebrows and resentment among Afghans and their companions. They’ve been dragged from place to place in recent months: from Zoutkamp to Harskamp, ​​back to Zoutkamp and then people spread across the country. According to DuPont, some of them have moved six times.

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This leads to significant delays. “People have to start over with the language course or driving lessons. We find jobs, but then families are moved and job prospects disappear again.”

One Afghan, who only wants to speak anonymously, has known for months that he could get a job at Randstad. He and his family live alone in a shelter in eastern Holland. So he is forced to wait. “For example, we have already lost 14 well-paying jobs,” DuPont said. Six other former employees have already found a job, and four more will sign an annual contract soon if all goes well.

Strict rules lead to frustration

There’s something great about this, DuPont says: The State Department wants to act fast, but that’s frustrated by the strict rules the Agriculture Commission, municipalities and other institutions have to enforce.

“I’m afraid of this,” Du Pont says. His foundation is also active in countries such as Turkey, where it has helped thousands of Syrians find jobs in recent years. “Everything is going much slower here than in Turkey,” says Du Pont. “There we find work and housing, everything is going much more smoothly.”

What does he think is wrong? In Holland, the central element is not the individual, but the system. “Asylum seekers are in second place. They are a game of system and politics. There are four or five different authorities in charge, and nobody catches the ball. As a result, the individual is lost.”

The State Department told NU.nl that it had spoken “on several occasions at a high level” with the COA “in connection with the former Afghan staff”.

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Megan Vasquez

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