Gov't can't force municipalities to take in asylum seekers: State Sec.
The government cannot force municipalities to provide reception for asylum seekers currently sheltered in Ter Apel. It is not an acute problem, so emergency legislation is impossible. "Compulsion is not possible at the moment, but I assume the municipalities will see their responsibility together," said State Secretary Eric van der Burg for Asylum and Migration.
Forcing municipalities to take people in might be possible with Ukrainian refugees because that is an acute war situation. "I plead for shelter for both groups. Ter Apel is rightly asking for help now," the State Secretary said before meeting with the Security Council, which consists of the 25 mayors who head the security regions.
During the Security Council meeting in Utrecht, the security regions agreed to create 2,000 shelter spaces for asylum seekers in the short term. This will relieve the burden on the asylum application center in Ter Apel. Utrecht, Amsterdam, Haarlemmermeer, and several other municipalities offered to receive people this week so that asylum seekers no longer have to sleep in a tent in Ter Apel.
Despite Van der Burg's statements before the Security Council, the mayors still asked the Cabinet to force municipalities to take in people if they refused. "We have indicated to the State Secretary that this is the umpteenth time that people in Ter Apel have to stay under inhumane conditions. We want the central government to use coercion because it can't go on like this. More places are badly needed," Security Council chairman Hubert Bruls, also mayor of Nijmegen, said after the meeting. According to him, the reception of asylum seekers is a national policy, and the central government must take its responsibility. "The need is high."
State Secretary Van der Burg called it "extremely unfortunate" that the mayors unanimously believed that coercion is necessary. He doesn't think it necessary if everyone puts their shoulders to the wheel.
Joeri Kapteijns of the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) said that the most acute problem has been "solved for now" with the 2,000 extra places.
Mayor Koen Schuiling of Groningen, under which the Ter Apel registration center falls, is relieved by the promised places. "This gives some relief. But it is not enough. We have had this conversation for half a year." That is why the Security Council and the COA argue for a structural solution. Schuiling wants the Cabinet to use coercion because there are "municipalities that are disruptive time and again." "The situation in Ter Apel is appalling. And then it turns out that there is indeed space."
"We must ensure that regular reception facilities have sufficient places. We must emphatically work on this. Asylum seekers with a residency permit must move to a house as quickly as possible. Then there is enough space," Van der Burg said.
Reporting by ANP