Cabinet to designate first asylum shelter location without municipality's approval
For the first time, the Cabinet will issue a permit to allow an asylum seekers’ shelter without an agreement with the municipality. It involves the Landhotel ‘t Elshuys in Albergen in the municipality of Tubbergen. State Secretary Eric van der Burg (Asylum) told parliament that consultations with the municipality have not led to an agreement. The municipality of Tubbergen is not happy, a spokesperson said. Hundreds of people protested outside the hotel on Tuesday evening.
The Cabinet bypassed the municipality by giving permission to the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) to shelter asylum seekers at the hotel. The hotel can now accommodate 80 guests. The COA thinks it can “potentially” accommodate 300 asylum seekers. The COA has already bought the hotel.
Exactly a week ago, Van der Burg announced that the Cabinet would bypass “refusing municipalities’ if they won’t grant a permit to designate a building for asylum reception. He did so now. Tubbergen does not want to change the designation of the hotel. The government will do so through an environmental permit.
“The need to realize additional reception places is so great that the Cabinet has decided to take an exceptional step,” the State Secretary said in a letter to parliament. According to him, this is “a first step, after which several locations in other municipalities will follow.” Last week, Van der Burg said he was already in talks with two municipalities involving a total of about a thousand reception places.
The municipality of Tubbergen is “unpleasantly surprised by this decision,” a municipal spokesperson said. “This location is not suitable; it is not suitable to place an asylum seekers’ center. Our first priority is to inform those in the environment. We also want to consult with COA about how this works exactly.”
In a response, Vluchtelingenwerk called the route to the new asylum center “not pretty.” But the refugees’ organization added that “there is no other option,” pointing out that hundreds of asylum seekers, “including pregnant women and children,” had to sleep on the streets in recent days. Vluchtelingenwerk would still prefer a “fairer alternative” to the instrument Van der Burg now used.
The announcement that the hotel would be turned into an asylum shelter sparked a protest, Tubantia reports. Hundreds of people gathered in front of Landhotel ‘t Elshuys on Tuesday evening. The general message from the mostly young protesters is that there is no room for asylum seekers there, according to the newspaper.
Two police officers were present but did not have to intervene.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times