Cabinet may use Lelystad Airport, empty churches to shelter asylum seekers & refugees
Lelystad Airport, vacant church buildings, government buildings and docked ships may all become new temporary housing sites for asylum seekers in the Netherlands, sources close to the Cabinet told the Telegraaf. The facilities may be used to create the additional placements that country will need in the near future.
The Lelystad Airport is being considered as an option because plans to expand the airport cannot move forward due to the current policy for dealing with nitrogen emissions. Additionally, the Cabinet is trying to get a handle on which properties owned by the national government may be used for housing asylum seekers or refugees.
More locations like the cruise and ferry ships converted to temporary shelter are also being considered for on the water. The cruise ship in Velsen will not be used for much longer, the Telegraaf reported.
The Dutch Cabinet is looking to create or expand reception facilities for 19,000 more placements by July 1. A shortage of such units last year led to chaotic scenes of asylum seekers camped outside the main reception center in Ter Apel. The situation drew international condemnation as many of those gathered were not able to access basic sanitary facilities or healthcare.
The Cabinet member handling asylum issues, State Secretary Eric van der Burg, will discuss the state of the asylum crisis on Thursday with the heads of the 25 Security Regions in the country. They represent the mayors of all municipalities in the Netherlands on the Security Council.
An estimated 16,000 people who have been granted refugee status and have a right to residency are still occupying a place in one of the asylum reception facilities that are already overcrowded, the Telegraaf said. Part of the problem is the lack of available social housing units.
Van der Burg may attempt to fix this situation by moving some of those with refugee status into new locations, like the empty church buildings, to open up the units at the centers where asylum seekers await the decision on their status, sources told the Telegraaf. It is not clear whether municipalities will be hostile towards the plan.
An increase in people traveling to the Netherlands is also expected with the upcoming spring season.