125 Dutch councils in talks on taking in more refugees

facebook page refugeesAround 125 of the Netherlands 400 or so local authority areas are in official talks with the national refugee settlement agency on taking in asylum seekers.

Nevertheless, despite all the offers of accommodation made so far, there is still a shortage of beds, a spokesman for the agency told the Volkskrant on Thursday.

The local councils’ association VNG says support for providing accommodation for refugees is increasing but many councils first want to discuss their ideas with local residents.

Every week, some 1,800 asylum seekers are arriving in the Netherlands and the country has also agreed to take over 9,200 under the EU’s plans to release the pressure on Mediterranean countries.

At the end of August, junior justice minister Klaas Dijkhoff urged councils to come forward with plans. ‘To put it bluntly, I need mayors, aldermen and councillors with guts,’ he said. ‘And I am asking everyone to accept that care centres will be established in their neighbourhoods.’

Emergency shelters

Apeldoorn, Rosmalen and Assen are among the councils opening emergency shelters in disused buildings and halls.

In Gouda the council has agreed to develop a refugee centre in a former army barracks. In Winterswijk, which already has an official refugee centre with 500 beds, a disused healthcare centre may be converted into emergency accommodation.

‘We cannot look on while families walk the streets and women give birth at railway stations,’ local VVD councillor Frank Roederdinkholder told the Volkskrant. ‘We have to do something.’

Meanwhile, a Facebook page where people in the Netherlands can register their support for refugee families and say they are happy to welcome them into their homes has been liked over 32,000 times.

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