Majority of municipalities do not provide reception locations for asylum seekers
The majority of municipalities in the Netherlands have not provided long-term reception for asylum seekers in the past 10 years, according to RTL Nieuws.
Figures from the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) show that 194 municipalities have no reception locations, while 151 provide long-term reception for asylum seekers. Long-term reception includes centers where asylum seekers are received, as well as emergency shelters that can temporarily house asylum seekers if needed.
Municipalities in the north of the country in particular have the most locations. "We have to make sure that the west also takes responsibility," State Secretary Eric van der Burg for Asylum and Migration told RTL.
Especially in Noord- and Zuid-Holland, Utrecht, Noord-Brabant, West Friesland and Zeeland, municipalities have failed to offer locations for asylum seekers, according to RTL Nieuws. Richer municipalities also shoulder less of the burden than poor ones. This creates a strain on the municipalities that do receive asylum seekers.
"Police officers, healthcare personnel and people in shelters work 70 to 80 hours a week. That can no longer continue. Now it is the turn of another municipality," said Groningen Mayor Koen Schuiling to RTL.
A lack of reception locations contributed to the overflow at Ter Apel, where asylum seekers enter the country. As a result, hundreds of people were forced to sleep outside or live in unsanitary conditions this summer at the Ter Apel center.
There is no excuse even for more densely-populated municipalities, said Van der Burg. "There are also municipalities in the west on the map that are densely populated and do offer shelter, so it is possible."
Van der Burg is currently drafting a bill that gives the central government the power to compel municipalities to accept asylum seekers. Around 18,500 spots need to be made available before the end of the year.