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Historical and legal background

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Historical awareness

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There is sometimes a lack of historical awareness within refugee studies. It is often forgotten that mass displacement of people is common throughout history. The crises in countries such as Iraq, Zimbabwe and Somalia, which caused such a mass displacement of people, should be looked at from a historical perspective as well. They are often caused by matters such as colonialism, global developments, interventionism and internal conflicts. This historical awareness could be used to improve resettlement in host countries. It leads to a better understanding of people, and of the conflicts from which they fled.

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Legal situation

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The focus of the legal system in the Netherlands is to encourage rejected asylum seekers to leave as soon as possible. The legal term for this group is ‘illegals’. De ‘Koppelingswet’ also states that this group cannot receive any social benefits. Because of (European) resistance to the treatment of this group however, a ‘bed-bath-bread-arragement’ has been made by the Dutch government in 2015. This measure is temporary, and only available for a limited time for rejected asylum seekers. It provides a place to sleep and other basic facilities. It is not illegal to provide help to this group, although they cannot be provided with work.

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Immigration detention

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In the Netherlands, there is an atmosphere of increasing criminalization of rejected asylum seekers. Many have to deal with lengthy immigration detention. Amnesty International regards this a s a breach of human rights, as government accountability is lacking.