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Repatriating Stranded Dutch Citizens: Scattered across the Globe

Jan Melissen discusses the political side of the repatriation operation for Dutch citizens stranded abroad in Dutch newspaper 'de Volkskrant'.

From the 23,000 stranded Dutch citizens that since last week have contacted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for help, a little more than a thousand have since returned to the Netherlands. These days, permission has to be granted by local authorities for each repatriation flight. The travel loving Dutch now find themselves scattered across the globe. It seems our eastern neighbours are handling things a bit more efficiently, their strict organisation has resulted in the return of a large number of Germans.

The Success of a Repatriation Operation

Jan Melissen is convinced that the slow progress on the Dutch side is not the result of a lack of effort. He is certain that people at the ministry are working hard. 'This type of operations is always very politically sensitive. Parliament is looking over people’s shoulders and heart-breaking cases can easily explode in the media.'

Melissen emphasises that the success of a repatriation operation depends on many different factors. Diplomatic relations between countries play a large role in the admittance of travellers, and a possible explanation for the German success is their large logistic capacity.

International Collaboration

Compared to previous repatriation mission, repatriating citizens from abroad has become a sensitive issues during this pandemic. During previous missions a lot of countries would repatriate each others citizens as a diplomatic gesture, but this time things are different and those numbers have dropped significantly. 'It's always tricky. For many countries this is an ongoing competition. Each person you enable to return home also provides an added risk of contagion.'

You can read the full article (in Dutch) on the website of 'de Volkskrant'.

Jan Melissen is an Associate Professor International Relations and Diplomacy at ISGA. He is lecturing Diplomacy Theory and Practice and Diplomacy and Communication in the Master of Science International Relations and Diplomacy (MIRD).

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