Large asylum centers do not cause additional problems in most municipalities: Report
Almost all of the Dutch municipalities with large asylum centers experience little to no problems from the center, NU.nl reports after speaking with the 30 municipalities with the largest asylum shelters. A few reported problems caused by a “small group” of residents, including shoplifting and bicycle thefts.
In the Zutphen district of Noordveen, locals living around the asylum center rate their sense of safety a 7.8 out of ten. In 2016 when the center opened, 41 percent of locals expected that it would negatively influence the neighborhood. That has now dropped to 13 percent.
Hoogeveen reported “at most five incidents in public space” in the past three years. Gilze-Rijen hears “hardly any complaints.” The Prinsenbosch asylum shelter opened about 30 years ago and shelters 1,200 people. “Of course, there is sometimes some nuisance. But it is not the case that it gets out of hand or causes concern,” mayor Derk Alssema of the Noord-Brabant municipality said.
The municipalities told the newspaper that they limit problems through regular consultation involving the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA), locals, and other parties. These consultations help identify issues early so that something can be done about them.
About 18 months ago, such a consultation resulted in Maastricht placing more security guards around the asylum shelter and deploying a street coach. Since then, there have been no signs of problems, a spokesperson said NU.nl.
In 2016, Utrecht started organizing events where asylum seekers and locals could mingle. Since then, the municipality has seen “a more positive culture and constant improvement” in the number of nuisance reports. The events also help asylum seekers integrate. “It makes it easier to learn the language and eventually find a job. When you feel valued, frustration decreases,” a municipal spokesperson said to the newspaper.
A few municipalities did report problems. Cranendonck, which covers the asylum shelter in Bludel, said a small group of shelter residents cause problems. “It mainly concerns shoplifting, bicycle theft, and harassment,” a spokesperson for the municipality said. Delfzijl said a small group causes serious nuisance around its asylum shelter.