Just one council offers space for child refugees after minister’s appeal
Just one local council has come forward to say it will make extra beds available for child refugees, dozens of whom are currently sleeping on office floors at the Ter Apel reception centre.
Junior justice minister Eric van der Burg made an appeal to all 345 local councils last month, saying 1,700 beds were needed for young asylum seekers who have come to the Netherlands without parents or other relatives.
He made the plea just hours after a court ruling which ordered the Dutch state to take urgent action to solve the problem. The Ter Apel centre is only equipped to take 55 minors but is currently housing around 300.
Van der Burg told MPs on Wednesday that just one council has said it is prepared to step in. A spokesman for the minister told Dutch News: ‘We made a concrete request for 25 to 30 houses in each of the Netherlands’ 30 safety board regions. Just one house has been offered.’
The government is currently finalising plans which would force local councils to set aside beds for ‘a reasonable number of refugees’ – with a financial bonus as a sweetener. Van der Burg is due to present the proposal to the rest of the cabinet on Friday.
Research published by RTL Nieuws last month showed that more than half of Dutch local councils have not provided any housing for refugees in the past 10 years. Richer council areas and Bible belt towns and villages are far less likely to have housed a refugee centre, the figures, from refugee settlement agency COA, show.
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