Iraq refugees removed from abandoned church

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“So we’re supposed to live out in the streets now? Is that the solution?” an Iraqi man exclaimed this morning when he and seven other Iraqi refugees had to vacate the Sacraments Church in The Hague.

There had been 68 asylum seekers in the church initially, but they had to leave because the Fire Department had judged the building unsafe. Police were on the scene to escort them out this moinrng at 9.00am.

Sixty of the refugees accepted the city’s offer for temporary housing in a homeless shelter at Zilverstraat in the city.

The remaining eight refused, disagreeing with the condition that they had to identify themselves at Zilverstraat. They fear that if their names are known they would be asked to leave the Netherlands.

They have been taken to the nearby Houtrust church, while volunteers were still trying to convince them to reconsider the homeless shelter.

The shelter will accommodate them until November 1. The refugees said they don’t want a temporary solution but a structural one. Volunteer Henk Baars said the people are full of despair. “You don’t go and live in a church like that if you have another option. There is no structural solution for them. I would be despaired too; sometimes you get into situations that you think, ‘you know what, I will just let it happen.”