Refugees sleep on Hague streets, protest poor living conditions

Dozens of the 175 refugees who arrived in The Hague on Wednesday, spent the night outside in protest against the poor conditions at the shelter in the former Social Affairs building. The protest expanded on Thursday morning, and there are currently about 70 asylum seekers on the reservation of the Schenkkade, according to AD reporter Niels Klaassen tweeting live from neighborhood Bezuinenhout.

An English speaking refugee, speaking on behalf of the protesters, explained to the reporter why they are protesting. They have been in the Netherlands for a few months now and have just arrived from the shelter in Budel in Noord-Brabant. In The Hague shelter they found too few showers, too few toilets, cold water, and barely any privacy.

"We were told that we will get money to buy our own food. The food here is different, everything is different: the language, the temperature. We don't want special food or anything, but in other camps people get money to by their own food", the the asylum seeker explained. "We understand that a lot of people are coming here, and that the Dutch government and the COA work very hard to accommodate the refugees, but we've been in emergency shelter for four months already."

On Thursday Justice State Secretary Klaas Dijhoff told the Tweede Kamer, lower house of parliament, that he can't do much about the refugees complaints, AD reports. He pointed out that the refugees are getting austere, but decent reception because that is all that is possible due to the high number of asylum seekers entering the country. According to him, the majority do not complain. People complain that they don't have a TV in the room, "but at least they have a room", the newspaper quotes Dijkhoff.

The State Secretary thinks that the complainers are dealing with other frustrations, not necessarily directly related to the shelter. He believes it will help if the asylum seekers soon get clarity about the shelter and the asylum process.

The refugee spokesperson told the AD reporter that they don't know what to do from here. "The more we talk to the media, the harder it becomes for us. The COA will say: you choose to stay outside so you get nothing. We aren't asking for much. We are only trying to make things a little better."