The municipality of Amsterdam is concerned about its Eritrean residents, calling them a “vulnerable group that needs extra attention and guidance to make a good start in the Netherlands”. Most Eritreans in Amsterdam are poorly integrated and struggle with health problems and debt, Het Parool reports.

At the start of this year Amsterdam counted 365 Eritrean residents, 215 of whom had residency permits. This number is increasing as a result of asylum applications. Last year 8,434 Eritreans applied for asylum in the Netherlands, including 1,237 minors without their parents.

According to the municipality, the Eritreans in Amsterdam are poorly integrated and “are far from Dutch society in terms of orientation, manners, values, language, participation and training.” Many are unsure about finances and struggle with debt to relatives or human traffickers.

Earlier this year Pharos, the national expert center for health discrepancies, also warned that Eritreans are more likely to get sick than Dutch. Diseases like scabies, malaria, TB, and hepatitis B and C are significantly more common among Eritreans in the Netherlands than Dutch.

Eritrean asylum seekers also have little knowledge about reproduction, contraception and sexually transmitted diseases. There are many unwanted pregnancies in this group and STD’s are more common than average.

Living under a  dictatorial regime in Eritrea and the hardships experienced during their flight also mean that many Eritreans have mental problems. Between 13 and 25 percent of Eritrean refugees develop depression or post traumatic stress disorder and alcoholism is widespread.

Pharos advises that Eritreans are properly informed on Dutch society, values and gender relations from the outset. They should also be given lessons on how to deal with money and alcohol. The Amsterdam municipality is working on a plan to help its Eritrean residents and expect to present it this fall.

©Alleastafrica AND AFP

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