Cabinet to appeal against refugee ruling, says nine months is not long enough

A refugee centre in Amsterdam. Photo: Lauren Comiteau
A refugee centre in Amsterdam. Photo: Lauren Comiteau

The cabinet is to appeal against last week’s court ruling in which the government was ordered to organise proper accommodation for all asylum seekers within nine months.

The court in The Hague ruled that all refugees have the right to a roof over their heads, ‘at least 4 square metres of space, a door that can be locked and a window that can be opened,’ as well as sufficient food, drinking water and clean sanitation.

Refugee aid group Vluchtelingenwerk brought the case after up to 700 people a night were left to sleep on the grass outside the Ter Apel reception centre over the summer because of chronic overcrowding.

But junior justice minister Eric van der Burg has said that the deadline is too tight and that it will not be possible to organise proper accommodation within the nine month period.

‘We are doing all we can to improve our refugee policy but we are dependent on local authorities before we can do anything,’ he said.

On Friday, Van der Burg issued yet another appeal to local councils to come up with more accommodation for asylum seekers, particularly unaccompanied minors. The minister has made repeated calls to local authorities to provide housing, but to little effect.

Despite the crisis, the number of beds for asylum seekers has actually fallen by around 1,250, Van der Burg said last weekend.

The minister is working on legislation which will ensure all local authorities provide housing for refugees, and will give ministers the powers to force them to do so.

A large majority of Dutch local authorities have not provided any long-term accommodation for refugees over the past 10 years, it emerged last month.

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