The work of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ call team: emotionally challenging but very rewarding


The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is working hard to reach all stranded Dutch nationals who have registered with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Information Service as soon as possible for repatriation flights.

Karin Devilee is among those on the phone all day with Dutch nationals in Israel and the Palestinian Territories. ‘I usually work irregular hours at Netherlands Worldwide. The contact centre is open 24/7,’ says Karin. ‘Right now I’m part of the crisis team, which includes a large group of ministry staff. Together we’re working to reach as many stranded Dutch nationals as fast as possible.’

Enlarge image Karin Devilee, belteam BZ
Karin Devilee (left), is a member of the call team.

Calls with Dutch nationals

‘I’ve been talking to a lot of different people and have received a lot of different reactions. Most people are so happy and grateful that we call them. Some have been keeping a close eye on their phones all day, just waiting for us to call and say they can go to the airport. I really feel for them. There have been various times people just burst out crying when I called.’

People just burst out crying when I called.

By now the ministry has been able to reach nearly all Dutch nationals who have registered with the Information Service since Saturday. ‘We unfortunately don’t always know why some people don’t pick up. But we keep trying. We want to get as many stranded Dutch nationals as possible on the flights.’

The stories people tell sometimes really affect Karin. ‘The work is emotionally challenging but very rewarding. Fortunately, the call team members have had good training and we don’t let our emotions get in the way. And there’s a staff welfare officer available if we need them. It’s also good that we’re all together in the office so we can share our experiences and feelings and discuss difficult situations.’

‘We’re going to keeping making phone calls until we’ve reached everyone,’ Karin says. ‘It feels good to be able to help people, and we’re going to keep doing all that we can.’

Enlarge image Minister Bruins Slot bezoekt het crisiscentrum van Buitenlandse Zaken in Den Haag
On 12 October foreign minister Hanke Bruins Slot visited the call team.