Friday, February 5, 2016 - 08:42
Amsterdam neighbours set up their own asylum reception center
Members of Gastvrij Oost - a group of Amsterdam-Oost residents, organizations and entrepreneurs - took it upon themselves to arrange a small-scale living facility for asylum seekers. In mid-February about 30 Syrians will be moving into a building on Mauritskade in Oost, Het Parool reports. The Gastvrij Oost volunteers want to do their part in the reception of asylum seekers and with this small shelter want to show that "things can also be different", Loes Leatemia, who came up with the idea along with local resident Lian Priemus, told the newspaper. With the help of neighborhood Oost, Leatemia and Priemus spent the past few weeks looking for an appropriate location and found it in former office building Ymere on Mauritskade. The property is currently being made suitable for habitation. The office spaces are being converted into rooms where. No more than two asylum seekers will share a room. The about 30 asylum seekers that will be moving into the building are all Syrians. They consist of two families with children, a single woman and the rest single men. They were first housed in the emergency shelter in Wethouder Verheijhal, then moved to the shelter on Havenstraat and eventually transferred to the Heumensoord asylum camp in Nijmegen, a place known for a lack of privacy and things to do. "We got to know these people in the Wethouder Verheijhal", Leatemia said to the newspaper. "The asylum seekers also know each other, which we found important. We really want this to go well." The single woman will have her own room in the new shelter. The asylum seekers will buy their won groceries, do their own cooking, take the kids to school for themselves and take care of the household. The intent behind this is that they get back to a normal life rhythm as quickly as possible. A number of administrators were trained to support them with this where they need it. Gastvrij Oost can use the office building on Mauritskade for the next five months. The organization hopes that most of the asylum seekers will have their own place by then. If not, the next solution will be found. On Monday a meeting was held for residents who will be living around the new asylum shelter. According to Leatemia, about 40 residents attended and the atmosphere was very good. "Many people offered to help."