The number of new asylum seekers arriving in the Netherlands fell to 2,400 last week, compared with 4,200 the week before, junior justice minister Klaas Dijkhoff has told reporters.
Dijkhoff said it is unclear what had caused the drop but said the introduction of border controls, and the Dutch decision to step up checks along its own borders, may have had an impact.
Nevertheless, last week was still in the top three busiest weeks so far this year, the minister said. In the summer some 1,000 to 1,500 people were arriving a week.
Dijkhoff also said the government is prepared to take steps to prevent violence in refugee centres and take measures against people who get involved in fights.
It is already possible to refuse residency permits to people who commit crimes during their asylum proceedings and to withdraw permits from those who already have them, Dijkhoff pointed out.
Dijkhoff also said he did not favour separating refugees along religious lines, as urged by a police union and religious parties in parliament.
People who have fled violence in their own countries and come to the Netherlands for safety must respect Dutch norms and values and the Dutch law, he said. And that includes respect for other religions.
The minister admitted some refugees are in crowded conditions and said that does lead to tensions. Incidents have to be reported, he said, although it can be difficult to determine what actually happened. Perpetrators can be moved to new locations, Dijkhoff said.
Last weekend at least 40 police officers were involved in breaking up fights at a refugee centre near Utrecht.