Reception agency arranging 2,000 places for Ukrainian asylum seekers; Municipalities responsible for rest
The Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) is arranging 2,000 places nationwide to shelter asylum seekers from Ukraine. Municipalities will be responsible for any other shelter spots, with compensation from the central government, the Utrecht office of mayor and aldermen said in answer to questions from the city council, NOS reports.
Due to the association agreement concluded between the EU and Ukraine in 2017, Ukrainians can stay in the Netherlands for a period visa-free. The period is normally 90 days, but the Cabinet plans to extend it to up to two years, depending on how the Russian invasion develops. Because Ukrainians can stay in the Netherlands without a visa for a period, they do not immediately have to apply for asylum. Therefore, the Ministry of Justice and Security asked municipalities not to refer Ukrainian asylum seekers to the asylum center in Ter Apel - where all new asylum seekers have to file their first request - but to arrange shelter for them themselves.
The COA is usually only responsible for arranging shelter for people in the asylum process, which Ukrainian asylum seekers will not immediately be. But the agency agreed to arrange 2,000 shelter spots nationwide to accommodate the people fleeing the Russian invasion.
"All follow-up places that are needed afterward are the responsibilities of the municipalities with financial compensation from the government. We take this into account when exploring possible options," the Utrecht mayor and aldermen said. Asylum seekers arriving in Utrecht in the coming week will be sheltered in hotels or through informal networks like churches.
Amsterdam has 80 places available in a hostel and is working on more space.
The municipality of Borne plans to receive asylum seekers in the former Azelo asylum center, the city council decided on Tuesday evening. According to the mayor, this is "by definition a stay of a temporary nature." The municipal council is still talking with locals about the reception of asylum seekers from Ukraine. It is not yet clear how many the municipality can accommodate.
The municipality of Ede is making the Harskamp army camp available, which has room for 800 people. Asylum seekers from Afghanistan were received in the camp last year.