Dutch news in brief, Friday 6 February 2009

6th February 2009, Comments 0 comments

Read the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands for the latest news in the Netherlands.

People trafficking increases sharply

People trafficking in the Netherlands increased sharply last year according to Trouw. In 2008, 809 victims were registered, almost a hundred more than the year before.

The increase is partly due to more people trafficking victims from China and Hungary. A rumour in early 2008 that there would be a general pardon in the Netherlands in the lead-up to the Beijing Olympic Games led to an influx of Chinese immigrants; a number of them were forced into the sex industry.

A fourfold increase in the number of Hungarians indicates a shift in the human trafficking networks from Rumania and Bulgaria, where human trafficking figures are down.

The newspaper reports the Dutch authorities have successfully dismantled a Nigerian network which used violence and voodoo to force mainly under-age girls into prostitution in the Netherlands. A trial against Nigerian people traffickers is due to begin in the Dutch city of Zwolle next month. But figures show networks in Africa have moved on to Sierra Leone.

Forty percent of the victims are actually from within the Netherlands. Many of them are girls forced into prostitution by so-called loverboys, who lure vulnerable girls into a relationship and gradually get them to have sex for money.

One in four skaters injured during big freeze

Dutch research institute TNO has totted up the total number of the skating injuries from the big freeze at the beginning of the year. AD reports the results: one in four skaters were injured, but only three percent actually went through the ice.

Nevertheless almost a third were prepared for this eventuality carrying an awl to help get a grip if they did find themselves in very cold water. Although calls for helmets to be worn on the ice were widely ignored, only three percent of skaters received a head injury. Most injuries were to the wrist and knees.

All in all the big freeze cost a staggering 82 million euros, with 13,000 people needing medical treatment and taking sick leave, says a consumer safety organisation.

According to the survey, which questioned 1454 skaters, they spent an average 20 hours on the ice in the first week of January. "There was total madness among skaters." says TNO researcher Ariëtte van Hespen.

Busy doctors' practices after office hours

But it isn't just during big freezes that doctors' services are under pressure. AD reports that out-of-hours doctors' practices are being overrun at weekends and in the evenings. A study by General Practioner Paul Giessen from the St. Radboud University Medical Centre in Nijmegen says, doctors are so busy on a Saturday that they can no longer provide responsible care. The number of emergency cases seen at out-of-hours doctors' practices increases every year by seven percent, leading to overfull waiting rooms, long waiting times and extra stress for both patients and doctors.

This is partly due to a lack of home carers, so elderly people turn to these services if they fall out of bed; or worried parents, whose children do not actually need urgent attention. According to Giessen "The situation will become untenable in the next two years if nothing is done." He advocates training specialised nurses, improving accessibility to family doctors and increasing their normal surgery hours.

Air passenger tax comes under review

Just when a measure looks like it's starting to work it seems the government wants to reconsider. Nrc.next reports that the numbers of passengers passing though Amsterdam's Schiphol airport fell by 9.4 percent last month compared to last year. As a result the government wants to review air passenger tax and to take a look at how to lower airport costs.

The anti-pollution tax on air travel was only introduced last July, making Schiphol Europe's second most expensive airport. The drop in passenger numbers cannot just be put down to economic malaise as growth at France's Charles de Gaulle airport is increasing. Dutch Transport Minister Camiel Eurlings says: "We have to keep our airport competitive."

Last week Schiphol announced that 10 -25 percent of its workforce would be cut in the next two years. Two thousand two hundred people work for the Schiphol Group. According to the paper this is the third downturn in the airline industry this century. After the 9/11 attacks in 2001, the Iraq war and the SARS outbreak in the spring of 2003 led to a two percent fall in passenger numbers.

Have you got that Orange feeling?

Should Dutch school holidays be shifted to include Queen's Day? Trouw reports that this is the question on the minds of many royalist organisations, as speculation increases that Queen Beatrix might announce her abdication some day soon in favour of her son Willem Alexander.

Earlier calls to move the popular national holiday, which has fallen on 30 April since 1948, have been dismissed. And anyway Prince Willem Alexander's own birthday is just a couple of days earlier. So Orange Committees across the land are wondering whether moving school holidays would help increase the numbers of volunteers to help organise events on Queen's day.

But in recent years when the date happened to fall in the May holiday there were fewer volunteers as many families take the opportunity to go on holiday. One thing is for certain according to Michiel Zonnevylle of the Association of Orange Committees, "The work of volunteers during the Queen's Day celebrations is good for social cohesion and that "Orange feeling."

Radio Netherlands/Nicola Chadwick/Expatica

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