Flat Earth: Romanian leave

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The Independent Online
SEE WHAT happens when you have a peaceable, liberal country? People take advantage. A tide of young eastern European tourists looking for a cheap holiday has washed up in the Netherlands, posing as asylum-seekers.

'There seems to be some rumour going round that you can get a bargain holiday in Holland by pitching up and requesting asylum,' a Dutch Justice Ministry spokesman said. 'These youths staying at reception centres are throwing parties, drinking alcohol, starting fights . . . Their behaviour is not what we have come to expect of the normal asylum-seeker.'

About 500 mainly Romanian youths have turned up in the past two weeks, accepted food, shelter and pocket money at asylum-seekers' centres, but have shown no signs of seriously wanting asylum. Doubtful officials say they will handle suspicious cases immediately.

But do these visitors like volleyball?

The rambunctious Romanians might like to bide their time while their cases are considered by taking in the first Dutch Open Beach Volleyball Championship - in Dam Square. Six hundred cubic metres of sand have been dumped in the landmark plaza in Amsterdam to create two courts for the 20-nation competition.