NL could shelter asylum seekers on offshore cruise ships; Absurd, refugee org. says
The Cabinet has taken a new step in its plan to shelter asylum seekers on three cruise ships. The ships are heading toward the Netherlands, State Secretary Eric van der Burg (Asylum) said on Wednesday after crisis consultations. One ship will moor in Velsen. It is unclear where the other two will go.
The Cabinet wants to shelter 3,000 people on these ships. One option is that the cruise ships will remain at sea. Van der Burg is investigating whether and how that is possible.
Vluctelingenwerk Nederland called it an “absurd idea” to shelter asylum seekers on an offshore cruise ship. “You don’t need research to think that you can’t do that to people who have fled from war and violence. You take in asylum seekers as a society and not from a distance at sea,” the council for refugees said in response to Van der Burg’s plans. “We understand that there are really only difficult solutions to deal with this crisis at the moment, but this one is the ugliest of its kind.”
The Cabinet will also make it easier for the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) to buy buildings to shelter asylum seekers. The COA can now buy buildings even if they don’t have the proper zoning.
Van der Burg also wants to distribute Ukrainian refugees across the country differently. There are reception locations “of which municipalities have indicated: we will receive Ukrainians there, but not regular asylum seekers.” By housing as many Ukrainians as possible in these places, space is freed up in municipalities that do not differentiate between asylum seekers’ nationalities.
Vluchtelingenwerk is “stunned about normalizing this distinction based on nationality. We hope that no municipality will want to make use of this. That affects Article 1 of our constitution.”
Van der Burg praised the municipalities for the work they have done to realize crisis shelters. Currently, they are still about 2,000 beds away from their goal of over 5,500 reception places. The State Secretary expects this goal to be reached in August.
The large crowds in Ter Apel, where a growing group of people has had to sleep outside on the grass in the past weeks, will continue for at least two weeks, he said. Only then does the State Secretary expect help from a second, as yet unknown, asylum registration location.
Van der Burg acknowledged that the measures announced on Wednesday will not be enough to remove the problems in the asylum chain. This is mainly because refugees - asylum seekers whose application for residency was granted - cannot yet move out of asylum shelters to regular homes in sufficient numbers. There are now 15,000 refugees in asylum shelters. Van der Burg believes that municipalities should also corporate to realize this outflow.
Reporting by ANP