Dutch refugee centers overcrowded as 27,000 seek asylum

The asylum centers in the Netherlands are overflowing due to a combination of the massive influx of new asylum seekers and the difficulty of finding those with a residence permit a home so that they can leave the centers.

NOS reported this on Thursday after a discussion with the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum seekers, the COA.

At this time there are about 27 thousand refuges living in the asylum centers, the highest number in 10 years. About 12 thousand of them are entitled to a home, compared to 5,300 in 2010, but are still in the centers because there are no houses for them. "In this way refugees with a residency permit keep spots occupied. As a result the flow falters", spokesperson for the COA Jan Stalman said to the broadcaster.

The COA is taking in an increasing number of refugees who followed a family member to the Netherlands and are eligible for the so-called family reunification regulations. For example a father has received a residency permit, so his wife and children may also come to the Netherlands. According to Stalman, about a third of all refugees who come to the Netherlands consists of people who are traveling after a relative. "People from Syria and Eritrea almost all get a temporary residence permit, because we can not return them to their country", Stalman said.

This means that the asylum centers have to find shelter for not one, but three or four people. The family reunification asylum seekers often have to wait a long time in an asylum center before a house becomes available for them. "Until then their lives are on hold. Because parents can not begin the integration process and start working. That can only once they have a home and are registered in a municipality", according to the COA spokesperson. "It is therefore vital that initiatives come that promote the flow of refugees towards a house."

The COA is in constant discussions with municipalities and housing associations to promote the flow of refugees with residency permits to homes and to try and expand the existing available shelter in the asylum centers. They are looking for additional shelter locations, such as the two emergency centers that opened in Zwolle and Goes last month. "We are currently negotiating it with several municipalities."