Dutch authorities have ordered the Eritrean ambassador to leave the country after reports claimed the Horn of Africa country’s embassy in The Hague was extorting “diaspora tax” from refugees in need of help.
The decision to declare Tekeste Ghebremedhin Zemuy persona non grata was communicated to the Dutch parliament by foreign affairs minister Halbe Zijlstra on Wednesday, reports Reuters.
“This is an exceptionally severe measure, meant as a signal to the government of Eritrea. We want to make clear that we don’t tolerate these unwanted practices,” said Zijlstra who decided not to close the embassy in order to help Eritreans.
The Eritrean embassy spokesperson declined to comment on the decision.
Eritrean refugees were reportedly intimidated into paying the illegal “diaspora tax” before accessing services at the embassy despite earlier warnings by the Dutch government against the practice. This was reported on the Dutch radio programme Argos last month.
The Netherlands has received an estimated 20,000 Eritreans in recent years who are seeking asylum. Most of them are running from their repressive government.