It was a news item towards the end of prime-time news in the Netherlands and already received less coverage than previous acts of terrorism. Terrorists killing 28 Ethiopian citizens in Lybia. In Ethiopia it caused a shockwave of unbelief and anger that also culminated in some voilence during organized demonstrations at Meskel Square in Addis Ababa according to several news sources. The Ethiopian government declared three days of National mourning. Our hearts and minds and prayers are with all those who mourn their beloved and with the Ethiopian people as a whole.
There is no way to describe the gruesome acts of terrorists that purposefully targeted "worshippers of the cross" like with Egyptian and Syrian Orthodox Christians earlier in the year. Ethiopia especially is a country that linked itself to what they call "The True Cross". Apart from the tremendous impact for families and friends of the victims, Ethiopian culture and society was hit in its heart. For many Ethiopian Orthodox Christians and other Ethiopians as well, Meskel (or The Finding of the True Cross) is a festival that carries a lot of meaning and both represents religious as well as cultural heritage that is treasured by all.
Bed, bath and breakfast
Ironically this week the Dutch parliament prepared for a European Council meeting where its prime minister will be talking to his fellow prime-ministers discussing the 'wicket problem' of the many boat refugees in the Mediterranean trying to make it to Europe. And at the very end of the chain: Today Dutch parliament agreed on a minimum support to illegal immigrants supporting 'bed, bath and breakfast' before they will be transferred to a departure centre in the North-East of the country facilitating their 'voluntary' return to their home countries. Circular migration of a sort that politicians have not even started to comprehend.
On the other end of the spectrum, I have recently joined EP-Nuffic, an organization that aims at a type of circular migration linked to knowledge and innovation. The resulting knowledge circulation should help accessing knowledge markets worldwide, solving some of the most challenging problems with water, food security and other policy priorities, while keeping our economy in shape. According to the report of the Scientific Council for Government Policy "Towards a Learning Economy", government’s main task is to develop organisations, relationships and career patterns in a way that maximises knowledge circulation.
Traditionally Nuffic has been facilitating quite a number of scholarships for people from all over the world to kick-start or have a through-start with their career facilitated by a Dutch knowledge institution. Alumni of these courses are nowadays occupying important positions in governments and businesses world-wide. The program has been hugely successful and next month I will be joining an alumni event in South-Africa that brings together quite a number of alumni to see how we can better connect and stay in touch. Since 2013 EP-Nuffic even manages a program "Make It In The Netherlands" trying to persuade talented individuals to linger on for a year in the Netherlands after having completed their MSc or PhD degrees in order to tighten their relations with the Dutch.
I cannot help thinking that amongst those who managed to cross the Sahara and the Mediterranean while escaping terrorists and criminal minds of smugglers and finally 'made it to the Netherlands' there must be a few good brains too good to return home very quickly (see also: http://www.migrantscontribute.com/). While starting this blog some three years ago I have stated that there are three groups of people connecting societies most effectively: entrepreneurs, students and migrants. If we could only somehow connect these groups in a meaningful manner, that would be another true cross to find.
My name is Reinier van Hoffen.
Click here for a summary.
Also find the text of a lecture Dr. Achterhuis held at the 2012 Bilderberg conference.