Dutch designate asylum system a crisis; Plan to resolve main overcrowding issue quickly
The Cabinet considers the lack of facilities for the reception of asylum seekers to be at a crisis level, and it hopes to resolve the situation in "close consultation" with municipalities. If that does not work, cities could be pressured or forced to do more.
"Of course you want to prevent that," said Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Friday at his weekly press conference after the regular meeting of Cabinet ministers. In the first instance, the newly-established crisis team must above all be flexible with the organizations and governments involved. But if that doesn't work, there are indeed "legal options" for such a "big stick."
The condition at the overcrowded application center in Ter Apel was the reason the Cabinet deemed the asylum reception system to be a crisis. In recent weeks, asylum seekers regularly had to sleep on chairs, because too few beds were available. Despite the fact that the Red Cross has been placing tents at the registration center this week, many still did not have a place to sleep. Again during Thursday night and early Friday morning, asylum seekers had to spend the night on chairs.
"This is shameful. People are lying in the grass in front of the center," Rutte said. First of all, he thinks that the crowds in the application center should be resolved, but Rutte thinks it is even more important that the flow from asylum seekers centers to proper homes needs improving. Those who are granted residency in the Netherlands should be able to start their integration into society and also be able to work.
State Secretary Eric van der Burg thinks he has a solution for the most acute need, at the asylum reception in Ter Apel. At that facility, there has recently been a shortage of space with frequency. Asylum seekers regularly had to sleep on chairs. Van der Burg says that the country's 25 security regions have promised about three hundred extra reception places for the upcoming days. In return, the Cabinet promised to come up with structural solutions quickly.
he crisis team structure that is now being organized for the problems in asylum reception was also previously used for the reception of Ukrainians. It was subsequently decided that municipalities could be forced to take in Ukrainian refugees. Justice and Security Minister Dilan Yeşilgöz is involved with the crisis team, and was unable to say earlier Friday whether the Cabinet is now also considering this for others seeking refuge in the Netherlands. She does think that "a breakthrough" is needed to relieve the pressure on the systems employed to process asylum seekers.
Because of this deteriorating situation, it is necessary for coordination and decision-making at "high official and political-administrative level," according to the Cabinet. The National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism (NCTV) will lead the organization. Yeşilgöz said the goals of the structure would be discussed at the initial meeting on Friday afternoon, and for how long this approach will be needed. She and Internal Affairs Minister Hanke Bruins Slot were not sure if the Cabinet would need to put more pressure on municipalities.
Yeşilgöz said the crisis approach would help reach the breakthrough she seeks. "If something extra is needed, you do it." She also expected a great deal of contact between the Cabinet and the governments and organizations involved in the coming days.
The Cabinet already created a plan to relieve the pressure on the asylum chain, including the establishment of a second registration center to relieve Ter Apel. The Cabinet is also working on a law to oblige municipalities to receive asylum seekers. In addition, more shelter places will become available, including on ships.
Van der Burg said at the end of May that the crisis reception would be more in order in the coming months. By having the security regions take turns taking in hundreds asylum seekers, they should no longer have to spend the night on chairs in Ter Apel.
Reporting by ANP