Police treat fire at asylum seekers’ hotel as ‘attempted arson’

Close-up of the front of a Dutch fire engine
Photo: Depositphotos.com
Close-up of the front of a Dutch fire engine
Photo: Depositphotos.com

Police are treating a fire which broke out on the premises of a hotel designated by the government to house asylum seekers in the early hours of Monday, as attempted arson.

The Landhotel ’t Elshuys in Albergen, Overijssel, was bought by refugee housing agency COA to alleviate the pressure on the Ter Apel reception centre where circumstances have become untenable.

Junior justice minister Erik van der Burg used his ministerial power to give a licence to convert the hotel to an asylum seekers’ accommodation, effectively bypassing Tubbergen local council.
The measure has proved controversial, however, and VVD local councillors in particular have been vocal in their protests against what they consider to be ‘undemocratic’ interference in local council matters by the government.

Locals also came out in protest because they fear 300 asylum seekers will have too great an impact on the community of 3,500. A move by locals to buy the hotel themselves was unsuccessful.

The hotel, which can house between 150 and 300 asylum seekers, was scheduled to be handed over to COA on Monday but the owner of the hotel is now trying to withdraw from the sale claiming she had not been properly informed about the plans for the hotel.

According to COA, the owner’s real estate agency had approached the organisation offering the hotel, which has been on the market for the last three years, as a place to house asylum seekers. A judge will decide on Monday if the sale can go through.

Police are treating the fire as attempted arson but a forensic investigation will have to confirm this.

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