September 20, 2017

Inflatable refugee floats through Breda

Filed under: Art by Orangemaster @ 7:51 pm


A six-meter-high Inflatable Refugee, an art project by Dutch-Flemish duo Schellekens & Peleman, will be floating around the waters of Breda, Noord-Brabant as of today, after having done the same in big cities such as Venice and Copenhagen.

The refugee is made of the same material as the rubber boats used by human traffickers to transport refugees. As Schellekens & Peleman explains, the rubber is too fragile for the sea, making this figure extra vulnerable.

Will the refugee arrive safely on land or will he pushed away? The size was very deliberate, representing how the Western world looks at the refugee problem. Does he represent an opportunity or a problem? The goal was to start a discussion.

(Link:, Photo from Facebook)

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March 11, 2016

Imagine every street housing a Syrian family

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 1:17 pm


Dutch stage director Marc Krone wrote a letter to his probably well-to-do Amsterdam neighbours to get them to think about helping Syrian families and it reads like the pitch of a television documentary. Krone breaks down facts about the numbers of refugees in all of Europe then asks would happen if every street in the Netherlands housed refugees.

Imagine: 30 people on [street 1] and on [street 2] put 50 euro a month for one year in a bank account – that’s 1500 euro. We find a place to live for 1500 euro in the neighbourhood and we rent it. We invite a Syrian family to live here. We help them learn Dutch, find work, and invite them at least twice over for a meal. By that time they’ve eaten 60 times with Dutch people, that’s eating out once a week and meeting people for them.

Wouldn’t you see this as a heavenly gift if you were on the run?

– 30 people who believe in doing something
– A home [ed. flat]
– Good will

Krone thought up an idea that’s not bad and could also work as a documentary. I very much doubt they could find a flat in his neighbourhood, but they could find one elsewhere in smaller cities for sure. And there’s jokes to be made about the food part, from scaring the refugees off to feeding them food they may not want to eat, but that’s easily fixed. As well, helping a family may appeal more to certain segments of the population that seem to focus too much on the single refugee men to feed their negative commentary.

Regardless, Krone makes the refugee problem easier to understand on a local level, something that is tough to do by only looking at pictures of hordes of people and barbed wire fences in the media.

(Link:, Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Takeaway, some rights reserved)

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January 18, 2016

Carnival song says refugees came for the beer

Filed under: Food & Drink,Music by Orangemaster @ 12:45 pm


Noord-Brabant student singers Grenzeloos Gek have made the news with their carnival song ‘Vluchtelingen uit Aleppo’ (‘Refugees from Aleppo’). They can’t sing on key and dance around a touchy subject, but so far they’ve not caused any actual controversy except for fueling the annual carnival lovers vs. carnival haters ping pong online.

Here’s a rough translation of the chorus:

“Refugees from Aleppo, over the mountains so high
Refugees from Aleppo, farmers, bakers and biologists
They’re coming here for four days of beer.”

It’s about a bunch of white male Dutch students drawing attention to themselves with a sub-par song using a ripped off melody and a hot topic. It’s about drinking beer and having fun and singing as flat as a carnival beer. The song amusingly implies that refugees drink beer when in fact a lot of them probably don’t and didn’t flee for their lives for a few watered down carnival beers with frat boys. I’m still wondering if this would have worked with a bunch of white Dutch girls: depending on their looks, they’d been written off or tolerated because of them.

Last year we had a few zingers. We’ll keep you posted this year.

Refugees from Aleppo is sung to the tune of the famous Dutch song ‘Una Paloma Blanca’ by George Baker Selection, better known by the younger generations for ‘Little Green Bag’.

Listen to ‘Refugees from Aleppo’ at your own risk, I couldn’t get through the video.

(Link:, Photo of Maastricht carnival 2008)

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November 3, 2015

Sirens turned off near refugee centres

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 1:14 pm


Throughout the Netherlands on every first Monday of the month, the national alarm sirens are tested at noon sharp. It startles the odd tourist and you do get used to it as a resident. However, for the first time ever, the sirens were turned off last Monday in towns like Schagen and Tubbergen in order not to traumatise any refugees who would fear it signalled a bombardment.

On certain holidays the sirens aren’t tested either, but this is really a special case aimed at lowering the stress of Syrian refugees. It’s nice to hear something empathic in a country that has had groups of people committing violence against refugees and publishing a lot of baseless xenophobic rants.

Earlier this year we told you about the national alarms that will be phased out in 2017 by replacing them with a text message service. Until that happens, there will still be sirens going off.

(Link:, Photo of Air raid siren by Tim Geers, some rights reserved)

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September 7, 2015

Amsterdam and The Hague harbour mini-refugees

Filed under: Art by Orangemaster @ 11:05 am


The Power of Art House collective have placed some 10,000 mini-refugee figurines in all kinds of places in Amsterdam and The Hague to draw attention to refugees and their plight. This guerrilla street art project is called ‘Moving People’.

The miniatures represent 10 actual people and their stories, giving a face to all the figures quoted by the media on refugees. These refugees from various countries wanted to tell their stories and were then scanned in 3D and turned into little works of art. The pose they strike are like the ‘title’ of their personal stories.

If you’re in Amsterdam or The Hague and have spotted a mini-refugee, share your photo with the hastag #MovingPeople on social media.


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September 6, 2015

The wetsuit mysteries

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 8:55 pm


Two bodies washed ashore in two countries, three months apart, seemingly unrelated. However, a Dutch detective specialised in persons missing at sea, John Welzenbagh, noticed a curious similarity when Interpol’s “black notice” came in.

Both bodies were clad in the same wet suit, same brand, same type. Through an a RFID tag embedded in the suit of the victim that had washed ashore on the Dutch island of Texel, detective John Welzenbagh had traced the wetsuit back to a sports store in Calais, on the French side of the English Channel, but the items on the bill that was retrieved for that purchase didn’t match any type of diving expedition Welzenbagh — himself an accomplished diver — could think of.

That is where the trail died, until Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet decided to pick up the scent this year. They found out who the victims were and what brought them together in Calais on a fateful October day.

(Link: Metafilter; photo of a Texel beach by Ralph Schulze, some rights reserved)

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December 1, 2014

Abandoned bikes to Jordan, almost as far as depot

Filed under: Bicycles by Orangemaster @ 11:38 am

Sending hundreds of bikes to Syrian refugees in Jordan sounds like a great way to clean up the clutter caused by abandoned bikes in Amsterdam. The idea isn’t new, as the city of Amsterdam said this summer that it wanted to send 10,000 bikes to Jordan. Bikes are useful for transporting large objects and can be converted into many things.

Having tens of thousands of abandoned bikes in a city of some 813,00 inhabitants makes it sound like we grab a bike and leave it on the street every time we go out. The bike depot, a ‘refugee camp for bikes’ that were parked illegally yet often removed incorrectly by the ‘bike police,’ is so far away that people cannot be bothered and just use another bike. It’s not a very green attitude, but it does save time and money.

If the city would just lay off people’s bikes unless they were really abandoned carcasses with no wheels left, that could be a good start. If the city would build more bike racks, that would help considering the current depot system apparently runs at a loss. If that depot wasn’t so ridiculously far away or there were a few smaller ones, that would help. So go ahead, ship a bunch of ‘abandoned’ bikes to Syria (or talk about it for months) instead of fixing the real urban problem, that’s the ticket.


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May 27, 2013

Artist wants to use old refugee boats for canal trips in Amsterdam

Filed under: Art by Branko Collin @ 12:26 pm

Meet Teun Castelein. His plan is to sell you boats that African refugees (the successful ones) used to reach the shores of Europe. Apparently these boats end up being destroyed by the town of Lampedusa in Italy, but Castelein sees a second life for them as the pleasure boats of the citizens of Amsterdam.

Castelein, 1:53 into the video:

Take this one. I believe this boat really suits Amsterdam. There is something cosy about it. This is a boat that makes you want to spend time with your friends. With its two benches facing each other it is excellently suited for sipping a rosé. It even has a cute little roof for when the sun is beating down on you. [Picks up a booklet from the deck] By the way, to seal the deal I include this authentic Gambian passport, just so you know where this boat came from.

AT5 says of Castelein that he tries to find the boundaries of the free market. In the past he unsuccessfully tried to register the brand Allahclothing. He also introduced marihuana cheese: “I live in the souvenir shop that is called Amsterdam. […] Eighty percent of the tourists are 35 years old or younger. And they all come here for the weed and the cheese. The Netherlands should embrace this product as it represents the tolerance, craftsmanship and trader’s spirit that have dominated Amsterdam for centuries.”

In 2004 the city of Amsterdam measured that on a sunny Summer day, on average 764 boats (PDF) pass any given point in the city centre. Busy sluices even process up to 1132 boats per hour.

(Link: Trendbeheer, Photo: crop from the video)

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