Ministers to force councils to accept refugees, 24 buildings on hit list
The government is planning to commandeer some 24 empty state-owned buildings to use as emergency accommodation for refugees, housing minister Hugo de Jonge and junior justice minister Eric van der Burg said after Wednesday’s cabinet meeting.
In addition, three more regional reception centres will be set up, to ease pressure at Ter Apel in Groningen, where all new arrivals have to report and where the shortage of beds has led to people sleeping in offices or in fields.
Efforts to permanently solve the problem by appealing to local councils have failed to produce enough beds, so the ministers are also drawing up emergency legislation to force municipalities to act. That should be completed before the summer recess, the ministers said.
‘This is not want I wanted but this is how it is,’ Van der Burg said. ‘In the coming weeks we are going to say to a number of local councils “you have a suitable building, the permits are in order, it is owned by the refugee settlement agency or the state, and so we are going to use it”.’
Van der Burg declined to comment on the possible locations.
One reason for the overcrowding in refugee centres is the lack of suitable accommodation for people who have been given residency permits.
The refugee agency is currently providing beds for some 40,000 people, but nearly 14,000 of them should have moved into regular housing.
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