Monday, August 17, 2015 - 09:36
City criticized for segregating legal Eritrean residents
Advocacy group and politicians are criticizing the city of Nijmegen for its plan to house about 100 young Eritrean refugees with a valid residency permit together in former student housing a mile outside the city in Lent Seven rows of prefabricated houses have recently become available in Lent, a rural part of the municipality of Nijmegen. These homes were built 11 years ago and have been home to about 200 students over the past years. The municipality now plans to house about 100 Eritrean men between the ages of 18 and 23 years in these homes from October until 2019, the Volkskrant reports. The city council will make a final decision on the matter in September. Both refugee organization Vluchtelingenwerk and coalition party PvdA think that this is a bad idea. According to Vluchtelingenwerk, such a concentration will hinder the refugees' integration and can lead to the forming of ghettos. The PvdA is also opposed. "These Eritrean young men need to integrate and learn Dutch habits, but that is difficult if you're between 99 other Eritreans", PvdA Councillor Giselle Schellekens said to the Volkskrant. "In a student city like Nijmegen they should live among Dutch students. Integration is much faster when they are in a mixed environment and come into contact with young Dutch people." The housing in Lent is the only option the Nijmegen municipality has, according to the responsible aldermen Bert Frings of GroenLinks and Bert Velthuis of the SP. The municipality has to find homes for more than 300 refugees this year. "They can support each other in their integration into society", Frings said to the newspaper. "Nijmegen does not have enough homes to house them separately." Earlier this month the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum seekers, the COA, announced that the asylum centers in the Netherlands are overflowing due to a combination of the influx in the number of asylum seekers and the difficulty of finding those with residency permits a home. There are not enough social housing available and municipalities have to look for alternative accommodation. Vluchtelingenwerk therefore understands why Nijmegen came up with the plan - while it is not an ideal situation, it is better than a long wait in an asylum center.