Gov't wants to keep crisis asylum shelters open for longer
State Secretary Eric van der Burg (Asylum) asked the mayors of the Security Council to keep the crisis shelters for asylum seekers open for longer than April 1. Many mayors agreed, the State Secretary said. According to Security Council chairman Hubert Bruls, “a few thousand places” can stay open longer.
Van der Burg said the beds provided by the crisis shelters cannot be missed yet. A number of regions indicated that they cannot continue this reception in its current form but would like to see what else they can do. “And some said very clearly: we’re not doing it,” said the State Secretary.
All mayors indicated that they could no longer arrange the necessary facilities for all asylum seekers. This concerns things like education, day activities, and healthcare. “We are at our limits,” said mayor Sybrand Buma of Leeuwarden.
According to Bruls, the rules around regulating facilities should be relaxed. “Otherwise, it will crash completely.” The Ministers of Education and Health should “add water to the wine,” said Bruls. Put retired teachers in front of the class, he suggested.
The mayors that head the Netherlands’ 25 security regions and Van der Burg also discussed third-country nationals in the extra meeting. These are refugees from Ukraine who do not have Ukrainian nationality. It concerns about 4,700 people. The scheme they fall under expires at the beginning of March, and the mayors have asked for it to be extended to prevent people from ending up on the streets. Van der Burg is optimistic about this, calling it “a pretty sensible proposal.” He will investigate the effects of an extension.
The Netherlands has a severe shortage of shelter spaces for asylum seekers. Asylum centers are overcrowded, and no housing is available for people who have already received residency permits. More asylum seekers are expected to come to the Netherlands in the coming months, while the number of reception places is falling. Van der Burg is therefore searching for more shelters.
Van der Burg recently announced that he needs to find 19,000 reception places before July 1. Keeping the emergency shelters open is not the end of the matter, he admitted. “But it is going to help.” He did not say how long these crisis shelters will remain open.
Reporting by ANP