The Netherlands may soon implement a stricter asylum policy as anti-immigration sentiment grows amid the Syrian refugee crisis hitting Europe. Those individuals who are deemed not to be “asylum seekers” will be limited to a few weeks of accommodation in shelters if they do not agree to return to their countries of origin.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte stated that it would be “crazy” to offer permanent shelter to those refusing to leave, saying, “We are talking about the group that can go back, whose governments would take them back, but they don’t want to go back.”
Local governments responsible for operating shelters have criticized the idea, fearing a drastic increase in homelessness come November if the policy is implemented.
The country’s welfare system is beginning to strain under increasing demands from the immigrant population and anti-Muslim sentiments have grown. England and Finland have similarly restrictive policies, but Europe in general has not had to deal with the majority of asylum seekers fleeing the war in Syria.
Turkey has committed to accommodating nearly 2 million Syrian refugees in a country of only 75 million. Following the start of the Syrian civil war, only 10.6 million have not been displaced from a population of over 22 million. Some 4 million have fled the country since 2011, with many going to Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, and Jordan.
Lebanon has also displayed anti-immigrant sentiment, fueled in part by fallout from the country’s civil war between 1975 and 1990. A major cause of that war is considered to be the huge influx of Palestinian refugees following the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, which drastically changed the country’s demographics.
These displaced populations are at high risk for radicalization, with limited access to schools and employment in their host countries. Falling donations to the neighboring countries that have been harboring refugees are now at less than half of the $4.5 billion per year that is currently needed.
Turkey is currently the largest donor of refugee aid, having spent $6 billion, with the U.S. in second at $4 billion. The threat of ISIS will likely rise as the millions of refugees across the Middle East and Europe continue to languish amid declining options to improve their situation.