AMSTERDAM (Aug. 28)
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians may soon pour into Western Europe requesting asylum like the current wave of Sri Lankan Tamils, according to former Dutch parliamentarian Jan Nico Scholten.
Scholten’s comments are contained in a report on the absorption of refugees he presented in his capacity as chairman of the Netherlands Society for Refugees (VVN).
In the report, the former parliamentarian said that countries which have taken in Palestinians in the Middle East are now increasingly less prepared to accommodate them.
For Saudi Arabia, the drop in oil prices has prompted authorities to refuse permanent residence to Palestinians and other foreigners who had been fortunate enough to find employment there. Lebanon is no longer prepared to admit Palestinian refugees and Syria, too, has become increasingly unattractive.
MEANS OF AVOIDING A FURTHER INFLUX
Scholten said the only possibility remaining open to the Palestinians is Western Europe. So far, only a handful have come to Holland because the country has an image of being friendly to Israel. But if the situation for the Palestinians worsened, they could come here in greater numbers.
Scholten said that the sole means of avoiding such an influx would be for Holland to renew efforts to finding a political solution to the Palestinian problem.
Scholten served as an MP for many years, first for the Christian Democrats and then for Labor and finally for a group consisting only of himself and one other parliamentarian. He failed to secure backing from any party for last May’s parliamentary elections. The former MP is widely viewed here as an advocate of the Palestinian cause.
Asylum applications here have risen steeply from 400 in 1975 to 6,500 last year. Recently, only a small percentage of the applications have been granted, but applicants have the right to stay in Holland until their application has been dealt with.