Dutch government lets refugee die

Issue 

Dutch government lets refugee die

By Russell Riebelt

AMSTERDAM — Unlike Germany, France and Belgium, the Netherlands has no racist political parties winning high votes and no fascists marching in the streets. However, problems in Dutch immigration policies are highlighted by the death of a pregnant refugee from Zaire.

Jacqueline Muluta, 28 years old and seven months pregnant, arrived in the Netherlands on April 9 and died in a hospital on April 23.

According to her husband she had not been examined by a doctor upon arrival at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport. Despite their frequent requests to see a doctor and complaints about her serious medical condition, members of the Dutch constabulary refused to contact a doctor. They also ignored the fact that she was pregnant. Her husband was prevented from buying medicine for her at a tax-free shop at the airport.

From their arrival until April 14, the Mulutas, together with another family from Zaire, were kept in the transit lounge at the airport. During these four days they were refused beds and denied medical and legal assistance. Because their luggage was lost, their only belongings were the clothes they were wearing. For more than 12 days they were not able to change clothes.

After four days the two families were transferred to the Grenshospitium (a detention centre for refugees seeking asylum) in Amsterdam. Ms Muluta asked again for a doctor. Even though she was examined here, an obstetrical examination was not preformed. The doctor diagnosed her pregnancy and gave her vitamin C and medicine for stomach aches.

On April 21 the Mulutas arrived, after a long and tiresome journey, at a reception centre for refugees in the north of Holland. By then, Ms Muluta was not able to walk without help from her husband.

Supporters of a more humane refugee policy say that the tragedy involves more than "small mistakes" in a "succession of unfortunate circumstances", which is what the Ministry of Justice claimed. They say it typifies a way of looking at refugees and has everything to do with the refugee policy of the government.

The newly opened Grenshospitium is the first prison to be built for refugees. It cannot hold the number of refugees who enter the Netherlands each year, but it is meant to work as a "deterrent".

More and more, refugees are treated as criminals. "Holland is overcrowded, foreigners out", is increasingly heard even though the Netherlands takes in fewer refugees than most of the European Community.

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