Government's asylum seeker plan angers Mayors

Vluchtgarage protesters at IND
Asylum seekers protest in front of the IND immigration office in Amsterdam. April 15, 2015 (photo: Wij Zijn Hier / Facebook). (Asylum seekers protest in front of the IND immigration office in Amsterdam. April 15, 2015 (photo: Wij Zijn Hier / Facebook))

Dutch Mayors expressed their discontent towards the government's asylum seeker plan in the lower house of Dutch parliament on Wednesday and made it clear that they see the commitments required from the municipalities unwise and unclear, NOS reports. The Mayors had nothing good to say about the cost the government will impose on municipalities for failing to adhere to the plan. 

"The government fails to recognize that cities, other than the five major cities involved, are serious and committed to giving shelter. Now it looks like the central government and the municipalities are on opposite sides," said the Arnhem Mayor Herman Kaiser. Arnhem can no longer accommodate asylum seekers in the government plan.

Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb finds the plan completely unrealistic. Rotterdam is one of the cities, among Amsterdam, Utrecht, The Hague and Eindhoven, where the asylum seekers will be placed. The relocation process of the seekers will still take up to few weeks in the Cabinet.

"Two or three weeks for me means three to six months. That is necessary to get around all the paper work it requires to get the people to go. That is what I said to the responsible Ministers," Aboutaleb stated. He also added that the deal was not negotiated with the municipalities, but they were only "informed".

He also thinks that the asylum and deportation system will never be "balanced". He does not blame anyone for this but is aware of the fact the the people are stuck with him.
"And in Rotterdam no-one sleeps outside. Even if I have to pick them up from the street by myself. That is the bottom line of civilization," Aboutaleb states.

The government has not made clear how the deportation policy should work in the big cities. Deputy Mayor Karsten Klein from The Hague says they do not know what is going to happen.
"At present, Salvation Army and other organizations are involved in the relief, but I think it is too much to ask that they also become involved with the deportation policy," he said.

The municipalities failing to follow the government policy are fined, according to Klein.
"Asylum seeker accommodation should not be penalized but supported financially," Katwijk Mayor Jos Wienen states. Wienen represents the Association of Dutch Municipalities (VNG) and sees that the municipalities receive too little money as it is and now they are cut by the government as they continue to provide emergency shelter.

The MPs use the information received from the Mayors to prepare for a debate with the government on Thursday at 10.15 a.m..

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