Rotterdam asylum center stops sheltering people from safe countries

Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb (Picture: Twitter/@_sjgbb). (Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb (Picture: Twitter/@_sjgbb))

The Rotterdam-Beverwaard asylum center will stop taking in asylum seekers from safe countries following a number of incidents involving such asylum seekers in the center, Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb wrote in a letter to the city council. This halt is being implemented in agreement with the COA, the central agency for the reception of refugees, RTL Nieuws reports.

Between April and August of this year, there were a total of 20 incidents in the asylum center, Aboutaleb wrote. "In the period from mid-August to the present, this number has increased to 69 incidents." 

More asylum seekers from safe countries moved into the asylum center recently. This is because the COA lifted the temporary limitation on the number of people to be sheltered. Currently 594 people are living in the Rotterdam asylum center, 127 of them are from a country that is considered to be safe. A maximum of 600 people can be accommodated in the center. 

"The removal of the temporary restriction and the changed influx ensured that the population of the asylum center has changed considerably since mid-August 2018", the mayor said. "There is a clear relationship between the increase in incidents and the changed target group at the asylum center. That worries me and requires intervention."

Aboutaleb therefore arranged with the COA that the asylum center can immediately stop taking in new asylum seekers from safe countries and so-called Dublin claimants. According to the Dublin claim, asylum seekers from safe countries have to start their asylum procedures in the first EU country they arrived in. Dublin claimants refer to asylum seekers from safe countries who traveled to the Netherlands after being registered in another EU country. They can therefore not start an asylum procedure in the Netherlands. 

The COA will also expand security at the asylum center and extra effort will be made to speed up the outflow of problematic asylum seekers in the center who are currently in the Dublin procedure. Where possible, individual measures will be taken to encourage people to cooperate with ongoing procedures. 

The COA confirmed the agreements with the municipality of Rotterdam to RTL Nieuws.