Another mayor criticizes Dutch government for poor asylum leadership

Cees van der Knaap (Photo: S.J. de Waard/Wikimedia Commons). (Cees van der Knaap (Photo: S.J. de Waard/Wikimedia Commons))

Ede mayor Cees van der Knaap (CDA) is calling on the Cabinet to give each municipality its own quota of how many asylum seekers it needs to take in, like is already done with refugees who were granted a residency permit. That way everyone knows where they stand, he said to Dutch newspaper Trouw.

Refugees with a residency permit, also called status holders, are proportionally divided across the municipalities. When it comes to asylum centers for asylum seekers however, the central agency for the reception of asylum seekers COA negotiates with municipalities individually.

Agreeing with the COA on a location for an asylum center can get a municipality in trouble with angry residents accusing them of succumbing to pressure from the COA and opting for the money an asylum center brings in instead of the interests of the residents. "I have grave concerns about how to organize this. All the leaders have the same problem", Van der Knaap said to the newspaper.

He believes the reception of asylum seekers is a national problem. "I miss direction and guidance from The Hague. Hence my appeal to the government for a quota. Give each municipality a quota, with the status holders the government does no different." the mayor said.

A number of other people also called for a national approach to housing asylum seekers recently, including former soldier and independent consultant on crisis management Gert-Jan Ludden and Marcel Boogers, professor of innovation and regional government at the University of Twente.

The municipality of Ede currently plans to take in up to 1,300 asylum seekers, in six smaller centers spread over the city. According to the mayor, the planned survey of the population is "the most complicated part" of the plan. The municipality hoped for more support for smaller centers. "However, the resistance is not getting less, perhaps even greater", he said to Trouw.

On Tuesday Van der Knaap, in consultation with the police, decided to cancel the information meeting for the residence about the asylum center on Thursday. "We received information that that afternoon would be used for protests, including people from outside Ede. Then you miss the objective and that is not worth it for me. The citizens can also ask their questions by phone, mail or letter." the mayor said. "I do not want a similar meeting degenerating in the way we saw in various parts of the country", he said, referring to asylum center information evenings in Purmerend, Steenbergen, Geldermalsen and Heesch ending in riots. "Ede will not succumb to violence, but we also do not want participation turning into incidents."