Number of asylum shelter spots falling, not rising
Despite the asylum agreement the government announced at the end of August to solve the crisis in asylum reception, the number of shelter spots in the Netherlands is decreasing instead of increasing. Many government contracts with municipalities expired on October 1, resulting in the shortage of asylum shelters rising, Nieuwsuur reports.
Responsible State Secretary Eric van der Burg (Asylum) called the problems serious. “Because a lot of crisis shelters are now closing even though we have made an agreement with the security regions: let’s keep those places and see if we can double the number. But we now arrive at a net decrease of 1,250 shelter spots,” he said to the program.
According to the asylum agreement, the Netherlands must create approximately 11,000 reception places. According to Van der Burg, municipalities are again failing to deliver. “If I fulfill my part of the agreements, I can also ask the municipalities whether they would keep to their part of the agreements.”
Amsterdam alderman Rutger Groot Wassink (GroenLinks), who speaks on behalf of the association of Dutch municipalities VNG, called the asylum shelter shortage an “accident in slow motion.” According to him, the unfair division in how many asylum seekers municipalities shelter is untenable. He wants municipalities to be able to “exchange” different forms of reception. “Some municipalities have to do more with first reception, and others have more homes for refugees.”
Amsterdam offers a lot of emergency reception, for example, sheltering over 3,000 asylum seekers. Rotterdam, on the other hand, refuses to shelter more than 500 asylum seekers. But the city also took in over 2,000 Ukrainian refugees and made 1,000 homes available for refugees per year. “If we can do that with other municipalities, we’ll figure it out quickly,” Groot Wassink said.
State Secretary Van der Berg is working on a law to ensure that all municipalities make a fair and proportionate contribution to the reception of asylum seekers. The government can use this law to force municipalities to provide shelter in the future. Van der Burg hopes the law can take effect on January 1, 2023.