Ministers, local authorities reach deal on refugee housing, integration

Ministers, provinces and local councils have reached agreement on providing ‘semi-permanent’ homes for 24,000 refugees with residency permits as well as 2,500 emergency places per province.

Some 14,000 homes will be created in the short term and a further 10,000 will be developed later, officials decided at a top-level meeting on Friday.

The lack of social housing for registered refugees means action needs to be taken to provide alternative accommodation and free up space in the reception centres for new arrivals, ministers say.

By establishing temporary accommodation around the country, the much-criticised emergency centres in sports halls, tents and army barracks can be closed down.

Prime minister Mark Rutte said after the talks that efforts are continuing to stem the flow of refugees at an international level. In the meantime, people who come to the Netherlands should be offered austere but decent accommodation, the prime minister said.


Agreements have also been made on the integration of refugees into Dutch society. Social affairs minister Lodewijk Asscher is quoted by news agency ANP as saying that the Netherlands must learn the ‘lessons from the past’ and start the integration process sooner.

Refugees with residency permits will start language lessons sooner and be screened to determine what sort of work they can do, Asscher said.

They will also have to learn Dutch values and sign a participation agreement in which they pledge to uphold these values and take part in Dutch society.

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