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Dutch government wants international police team to guard MH17 crash site

The Dutch government is to press for an international police unit to be sent to the site of last week’s plane crash in Ukraine to protect investigators.

Foreign minister Frans Timmermans (left) and prime minister Mark Rutte (right) at this year's nuclear security summit in The Hague.Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko said he had received a request from prime minister Mark Rutte to send a UN delegation to the crash zone near Torez, in eastern Ukraine.

Investigators have barely been able to investigate the crash site because the area is controlled by a disjointed network of pro-Russian separatist forces. Negotiations to secure the safe passage of the train carrying victims’ remains to Kharkiv on Monday went on for more than a day.

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One in eight tenants struggling to pay rent as low paid bear brunt of recession

More than half a million Dutch households are struggling to pay the rent or mortgage – twice as many as a decade ago - according to new figures.

The number of people using foodbanks has risen sharply in recent years.The problem is most acute among tenants, 13 per cent of whom are reckoned to be at high risk of falling behind with their payments. Three per cent of people who own their own homes are classified as high-risk.

The Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) says rent increases are one reason for the higher prevalence among tenants, but other factors linked to the economic crisis are also to blame.

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The Netherlands wants to make Putin pay for MH17, but at what cost to itself?

Dutch politicians have hardened their stance against Vladimir Putin and Russia in the wake of the shooting down of Flight MH17, apparently by Moscow-backed separatists. But can the Netherlands really afford a trade war?

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte and Russian president Vladimir Putin were on friendlier terms in April last year during Putin's state visit.The Netherlands is heavily dependent on Russian trade, importing €28.4 billion of goods last year. Only Germany and China bought more Russian goods, and in the case of China, a far larger country, the difference was marginal.

Moreover, the amount imported far outstrips the €4 billion that the Dutch exported last year. Understandably, then, the Netherlands has been reticent until now on the issue of sanctions against Russia for its annexation of Crimea and support for separatist forces in eastern Ukraine.

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Flight MH17: Netherlands declares national day of mourning as victims are flown home

For the first time in its history the Netherlands will hold a day of mourning for a civilian tragedy, following the shooting down of Flight MH17 in the skies over Ukraine.

Flags will fly at half mast for the victims of Flight MH17 on the first national day of mourning since 1962.A growing clamour over the last five days for the nation’s grief to be formally recognised led Prime Minister Mark Rutte to announce the move on Tuesday night.

The first plane carrying the victims’ remains is expected to land in Eindhoven at 4pm on Wednesday, following four days of negotiations to secure the crash site in the near-lawless eastern Ukrainian region.

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Flight MH17: Now the Netherlands has to learn to grieve as a nation

The loss of 193 Dutch citizens among the 298 victims on board Flight MH17 has presented the Netherlands with an unfamiliar problem: how to mourn a national tragedy.

The memorial to the 1977 Tenerife air crash, in which more than 200 Dutch passengers and crew lost their lives.Sports clubs, schools and community centres touched by the disaster have all opened their doors in recent days to allow people to share their memories and come to terms with Thursday’s devastating news.

There have been calls for a national day of mourning to recognise the scale of the disaster. But as Prime Minister Mark Rutte noted as he briefed MPs on Monday morning, collective grieving is not embedded in the Dutch psyche.

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Rutte's angry phone call to Putin follows a year of acrimony between Moscow and The Hague

The explosive phone call from Mark Rutte to Vladimir Putin over the desecration of the MH17 crash site marks a new low point in the fractious relationship between Moscow and The Hague.

Vladimir Putin and Mark Rutte in September, during the ill-fated 'year of friendship' aimed at cementing ties between the two nations.The Dutch prime minister described his conversation with the Russian president as “intense”. Rutte was responding to widespread reports that the crash site in Ukraine had been looted and plundered by pro-Russian separatists.

Rutte dispensed with diplomatic language as he demanded an intervention from Putin to stop the looting. In his own words at a press conference on Saturday, he told the Russian leader: “You must put everything into it, I don’t know who else to call.”

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Scientists, politicians, students and chefs: the lives wiped out by a wayward Russian rocket

A leading authority on the fight against Aids. A family of six from North Brabant. A young couple from Roosendaal. A member of the Dutch Senate. The lives of those who perished on board Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 were as varied as the manner of their demise was abrupt and senseless.

Pim de Kuijer, a political activist and Aids campaigner, was on his way to a conference in Melbourne.In communities around the Netherlands, shock waves swept through as the scale of the disaster became apparent. Flags flew at half-mast, partly in response Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s instruction to lower the flag on government buildings.

The number of Dutch victims stands at 193*, almost two-thirds of the 298 passengers and crew who died on board, making it one of the most devastating air crashes in the country’s history. Only the Tenerife disaster in 1977, when two planes collided on the runway, killing 583 people, claimed more lives.

Pictured: Lobbyist, writer and Aids campaigner Pim de Kuijer, one of the Dutch passengers who died on board Flight MH17.

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Aruba budget row escalates as leader accuses Dutch government of 'raping' his island and goes on hunger strike

The prime minister of Aruba has gone on hunger strike in protest over his island’s “humiliation” by the Dutch government in a bitter row over budget spending.

Trouble in paradise: Mike Eman has accused his Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte of lacking empathy.Relations between the Caribbean nation, which is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and The Hague have deteriorated dramatically in recent months as part of a row over Aruba’s budget.

Prime minister Mike Eman began his hunger strike at the weekend, complaining that the island had been “humiliated, taken hostage and raped” by the Dutch government. It followed home affairs minister Ronald Plasterk’s decision to order an investigation into Aruba’s 2014 budget.

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Heatwave warning as mercury could hit 35 degrees this weekend

Dutch health authorities have activated the national heatwave plan as temperatures are forecast to pass 30 degrees over the weekend.

20130722-vondelpark-cafeThe mercury is expected to peak on Saturday, when southern provinces could reach 35 degrees, according to weeronline.nl. Light smog is also forecast for the south, increasing the risk for vulnerable people.

The third stage of the Nijmeegse Vierdaagse, an annual four-day walking festival that attracts more than 40,000 participants each year, was brought forward to 4am in anticipation of the severe heat. The Red Cross said 80 people had fainted the first two days of the event.

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Foreign savings crackdown yields €900 million for Dutch taxman

The Dutch treasury is around €900 million better off as a result of new rules designed to clamp on undeclared foreign savings.

Around €6 billion in foreign savings was declared during a nine-month amnesty.So-called zwartspaarders, or “black savers”, were given a deadline of July 1 to declare any savings held overseas or risk a fine.

Deputy finance minister Eric Wiebes said 12,000 people had made use of a temporary regulation allowing them to report their savings to the tax office without penalty. Ten percent of all declarations came on the last day before the deadline, NOS reported.

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