Resettlement in Netherlands benefits sick, disabled people (Resettlement)

Published on Nov 28 2008 // Main News

Hague, November 28: Between 2007 and 2008, 22 invited exiled Bhutanese arrived to the Netherlands. In November 2008, a Dutch team visited Nepal for a second selection. It is estimated that another 80 people will be invited by the Dutch government in 2009. Exiled Bhutanese are received by COA (Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers) in the small village of Amersfoort to wait for their assigned housing and learn Dutch language and customs.

Starting in October 2008, Global Human Rights Defence (GHRD) the Hague conducted interviews with the newly resettled Bhutanese families, as part of a small research project to evaluate, monitor and report on the situation for the Bhutanese refugees that are resettling in the Netherlands. The purpose is to understand how they experience the resettlement process, what obstacles and opportunities they have encountered; and how they view their new life in the Netherlands.

Lack of information
The general impression is that the resettlement process in the Netherlands has been smooth and the experiences with Dutch authorities, culture and people are positive. However, it is noteworthy that none of the exiled Bhutanese GHRD spoke to had been informed about their new country before arrival. Neither were they made aware that they should live several months in temporary housing run by the refugee centre. They are currently eagerly waiting to start their new life outside of the refugee centre, to move in to their own house, to learn Dutch and find employment.

The story of Kewal Ram Rizal
Kewal Rizal lived for 17 years in great despair in the Goldhap camp. In addition to the general difficulties related to employment and food scarcity, he was diagnosed with a chronic disease but unable to obtain accurate treatment in the camp. He was selected by the Netherlands to be treated and arrived with some of his family members to the Amersfoort centre in April 2008. As a sick father unable to work and financially support his family, Rizal is grateful for this opportunity to start a new life. In particular for the sake of his children who he believes have greater opportunities to receive education in the Netherlands than in Nepal. Rizal, who was resting at the hospital during the writing of this report, talked to Jenny Lundström and Rachel Harrigan (GHRD) on his medical treatment. Excerpts:   

GHRD: How was the medical treatment in the camps?
Rizal: Very bad. The staffs were untrained and I used to get wrong medicines. I used to have symptoms like the swelling of legs and fingers and headache. They thought it was a minor problem, so I was given basic medicine. I appealed several times to UNHCR for medical assistance after being diagnosed with a brain tumour two years back. It took eight months to receive the confirmation. UNHCR said I would be taken to a safe country.  I was finally given the chance to come to the Netherlands for treatment.

GHRD: How did you feel when you found out you were going to the Netherlands?
I was very excited and willing to go as soon as possible. As a patient I was in a hurry to get treatment. Before, I had only heard about Australia and America. I had never heard about the Netherlands. Now in the Netherlands, I have good contact with the Dutch people and am very satisfied.

GHRD: Have you received accurate treatment in the Netherlands?
I receive great treatment in the Netherlands and the people are very nice. The treatment began as soon as I arrived and my diabetes problem has already been solved. I even started eating sugar. I have lifted my weight by 20 kilogram since I arrived here (Netherlands). I encourage the sick and disabled in the camps to resettle here for treatment.

GHRD: How do you think of the future?
I have a very positive view of the future. I want to be settled here. I am not thinking of anything else. My parents will go to America. My other relatives may be coming in the future. COA has assured that they we will find suitable accommodation near the hospital in Utrecht.

GHRD: What is the biggest difference between life in Nepal and NL culture-wise?
The people are very disciplined and civilized. The people here cannot force someone to do something. They are more positive. All the people are treated equally in the supermarket and respect each other irrespective of their ability or potentialities.

(This piece is contributed to BNS by the Netherlands-based Global Human Rights Defence)