The cabinet is to stop funding emergency accommodation for asylum seekers whose applications for refugee status have been rejected but remain in the Netherlands, often living on the streets, broadcaster NOS said on Tuesday.
From 2024 funding for the ‘bed, bath and bread’ programme will halt and junior immigration minister Erik van der Berg will now discuss phasing out the support with the five local authorities which offer help, NOS said.
The five councils – – Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, Groningen and Eindhoven – have reacted furiously because they fear that hundreds of people without a residency permit will be back living on the streets.
‘It is very important that we keep this form of accommodation, particularly because of the public safety aspects,’ Amsterdam social affairs chief Rutger Groot Wassink told NOS radio.
The decision to stop funding for a project which works well, he said, is a bolt out of the blue.
The coalition agreement between the VVD, D66, CDA and ChristenUnie included plans to expand the project nationwide. However, the increasing cost of dealing with migration has now led to other choices, a justice ministry spokesman told NOS.
Groot Wassink points out that the government has allocated an additional €8.7 billion to solve the refugee crisis. Saving the €30 million which goes on people without residency permits is ‘nuts’, the council chief said. D66 MPs are also opposed to the decision to stop the funding.
The bed and board programme was introduced in 2015. Refugee organisation Vluchtelingenwerk estimated at the time some 5,000 would-be refugees were turned out onto the streets every year after being ordered to leave asylum seekers centres. Many of them remain in the country and live illegally.
An evaluation of the project so far, which has yet to be debated in parliament, showed solutions had been found for 1,200 of the 2,000 people who have been given shelter in the emergency accommodation.
Some 40% of them are now waiting for the results of a new application for asylum and 18% have either been given a residency permit or have left the country. No solution was found for the remaining 40%, the report said.
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