“In Holland, it is not the individual that is central, but the system”

Dear Foreign Minister Hoekstra,

Last year, 37 employees of the Dutch embassy in Kabul arrived in the Netherlands. They were lucky, you can say: as is known, the evacuation was in disarray, because despite the very frequent and urgent requests for help, the Netherlands continued to postpone the evacuation until it was too late. As a result, it was difficult to safely get people out of the collapsed city, and in any case the Netherlands applied the most miserly definition of responsibility: embassy security personnel were allowed to sort it out, because they were not official employees. After all, freelancers and temporary employees don’t receive the Christmas package.

Minister Kag had to resign due to the eviction, which was a major failure as many of the interpreters were forced to remain in the country. The people who helped the Netherlands all those years with a Western presence in the country, as a result of which their lives were in grave danger. She was good enough to help us, but not important enough for us to save her. Fortunately, our cheerful Prime Minister always had good news during the discussion: This incredibly wonderful country has also been evacuating people. After all, for our prime minister, the glass is always full just below the edge: the children of their parents were not taken out of their homes.

A delegation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs visited these 37 evacuees at the Dutch embassy two weeks after their arrival at the refugee reception desk. They had something with them: a letter of resignation. Some of these people had been working at the embassy for over twenty years, and they were heartbroken. A spokesman for the ministry found this strange: Were they not warned that they would leave the service if the embassy closed? OK then. Moreover: they received severance pay from this incredibly wonderful country. We can’t make it more fun, but we can make it easier!

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Research by nu.nl now shows that people who have received severance pay, and therefore have their own money, now have to pay for the shelter themselves. Because yes, they have money, right? In the UK, immediately after the evictions, the government launched a campaign: Operation Warm Welcome. After all, there must be a difference.

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I read that a staff member of the foundation who helps embassy staff find new work also does so in Turkey. Note that it goes faster there. Nu.nl asked him how that was possible. His answer: In Holland, the central element is not the individual, but the system.

A day later, it turned out that the Tax and Customs Administration is conducting a “customer satisfaction survey”, including the indexing system. Try reading this sentence out loud without laughing. The questions turned out to be insanely biased (‘it’s hard to rule a country when people cheat with provisions’), with the goal of justifying the tough approach to alleged fraud and cleaning up the dirty streets of the service.

After all, here too: not the individual, but the system.

Megan Vasquez

"Creator. Coffee buff. Internet lover. Organizer. Pop culture geek. Tv fan. Proud foodaholic."

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