Three partially open party tents, tea lights in a large circle, chairs here and there in half circles, a radio is playing. In the background the tall buildings of ministries and banks around Central Station. A visit to the tent camp of failed Iraqi refugees in The Hague makes an impression. Although unannounced, they are happy to receive us with caution.
Normally, the lawns between the tram rails and cycle paths are only used by dogs. Now it feels like a familiar personal place, almost a camping atmosphere - for those who have good associations with it. A great contrast to the painful stories of the men (the youngest is nineteen years old, the oldest around forty) who stay there. They outline their history in Iraq: someone has been kidnapped, no contact with the family who stayed behind since 2007, the risky life of a truck driver traveling with an American convoy.
Joris Luyendijk
A kidnapping in the Netherlands shakes up half the country. An Iraqi who claims to have been kidnapped unmistakably raises the question "Is it true?" What's in my head that it works that way? If you talk to them longer, that feeling will disappear. Joris Luyendijk is right: they are just people.
There is also something interesting about it, adventurous, just talking to people you don't know, with life histories that are foreign to me. It is exciting to really get to know what it is like for him now to stand far from home in a park opposite the station, with forty fellow sufferers, with Dutch people who support your situation, with Dutch students who want to know what it is like to be there. to stand.
They themselves find themselves caught between two major interventions: the war in Iraq and the asylum policy in Europe. The Netherlands has signed the war in Iraq. This has brought insecurity there that was not there before - despite the dictatorship, or perhaps thanks to the dictatorship. 'Shouldn't the Netherlands now also bear the consequences of that decision?' is the question.
How do you approach a girl?
What lingers is the hopelessness: no papers here, then no future. Going back is not an option, because it is too dangerous. The Dutch government has withdrawn temporary residence permits because it states that the situation has become calm. Those who worked here can no longer do that. Being undocumented affects all areas. The age of nineteen to forty is the time when peers get into a relationship. How do you approach a girl? 'Hey what is your name? I have no papers, no prospect of work. ' It immediately leaves an unequal mark on a relationship: 'Does he love you or does he want a residence permit? Does she love or care about me? '
The feeling of wanting to do something is strong. Hard to suppress. I don't get there with 'well, there is so much misery in the world'. But what can be done?
I find powerlessness difficult. Nor is it very much in line with our belief that we are making the world a better place.
Still, if I want to keep looking these people straight in the eye, then I have to admit that they are doing something about it. Whether they believe they are going to make it or not, there is humor. They support each other. They keep telling. Despite the violence they experienced, the withdrawal of their permit, the cold, there is a positive atmosphere. They do have confidence.
A striking number of people - support from those involved - are present around the camp. After an hour and a half, the cold pulls up through your shoes in your muscles. What do you say when you leave? Success (but it is not an exam), good luck (it is not a funeral). "Can I bring something when I return?" knows someone to say. "Well, if you tell two others tomorrow, it's okay." Hereby.
Rob van Worth
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