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Netherlands to cut off food and shelter for people who fail to qualify as refugees

NewsBy Neil Fetherston
Netherlands to cut off food and shelter for people who fail to qualify as refugees

The Netherlands has warned it will cut off food and shelter for people who fail to qualify as refugees as it toughens up its asylum policy.

Failed asylum seekers would be limited to "a few weeks" shelter after being turned down, if they do not agree to return home.

They would then either be deported or sent away to fend for themselves.

From November, the coalition of Prime Minister Mark Rutte, which competes for votes with the popular, anti-immigration party of Geert Wilders, wants to close 30 regional "bed, bath and bread" shelters where asylum seekers have been able till now to get help on the basis of need.

Under the plan, six national centres applying the stricter guidelines would provide only to people who agree to leave.

The proposal prompted a clash between Mr Rutte's ruling Liberals and their junior coalition partner, Labour, that nearly toppled the government in April.

On Friday, the UN's Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination added to outside criticism of the Dutch policy, saying basic needs of migrants should be provided unconditionally.

"As long as they are in the Netherlands, they have to enjoy minimum standards of living," said Ion Diaconu, who helped write the UN report.

But Mr Rutte responded on Friday that it would be "crazy" to offer permanent shelter to people who refused to leave.

"We are talking about the group that can go back, whose governments would take them back, but they don't want to go back," he said.