Mayor gives failed refugees until December 3 to leave building

A group of around 200 failed asylum seekers must leave a building they have taken over on Amsterdam’s Weteringschans by December 3 or face eviction, the city’s mayor Eberhard van der Laan said on Friday.

The refugees have turned down an alternative offer of accommodation in a former prison for a six-month period.

The group say living in a prison would bring back emotions and bad memories for many. They are also angry the offer is confined to the 159 failed asylum seekers who first handed their cases over to refugee agency Vluchtelingenwerk. Since then their number has grown to over 200.

The Netherlands has a policy of evicting failed asylum seekers from refugee centres if they refuse to cooperate with their deportation.  Vluchtelingenwerk estimates some 5,000 would-be refugees are put on the street every year.

The Amsterdam group first lived in tents on waste ground in the city’s Osdorp district and later lived in an abandoned church. They argue they cannot return home either because it is unsafe or because they do not have proper papers.

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