Asylum shelters face shortage of 10,000 beds: report

King Willem-Alexander at an asylum center
King Willem-Alexander on visit to the asylum center in Ter Apel, 19 Jan 2016 (Photo: @koninklijkhuis/Twitter)Photo: Rotapool / Robin van Lonkhuijsen via RVD, @koninklijkhuis / Twitter)

There is a serious shortage of reception places for asylum seekers in the Netherlands. The asylum centers are currently at full capacity, sheltering 27 thousand people. But from January 1st, around 37 thousand places need to be available, NRC reports based on internal documents from the central agency for the reception of asylum seekers in the Netherlands COA. 

The COA expects to need 37 thousand spaces as of the start of next year, and 39 thousand places by the end of next year. The years 2020 and 2021 will be "stressful" years "in terms of capacity", the agency wrote in its documents, according to the newspaper.

The growing demand for shelter spaces partly has to do with the fact that the number of people seeking asylum in the Netherlands is on the rise again since the summer. The processing of asylum applications is also slow due to staff shortages at immigration and naturalization service IND. And due to tightness on the Dutch housing market, refugees with residency permits are waiting longer and longer in the shelters for a suitable home. 

Another problem is that the contracts the COA has with a number of municipalities are expiring soon, and it is not yet known whether they will be extended. This means that some shelters may have to close their doors. 

The IND is hiring new staff and hopes this will help reduce waiting times for asylum applications. But the COA is not very hopeful, according to NRC. "The question is when the effects will really become and remain noticeable", the agency wrote.