The Dutch central agency for the reception of asylum seekers has called for the caretaker government to push forward with a new law on spreading asylum seekers, as a group from Ukraine kept the right to stay.
As government is due to return on Tuesday, the COA has asked MPs to designate a ‘spreading’ bill a matter for business even though the government has resigned.
“Human shelter is not a political question,” said COA board chairman Milo Schoenmaker in a statement. “It is simply a legal obligation that the Netherlands must fulfil, and at the moment we unfortunately do not have enough long-term places of sufficient quality.”
Over the weekend asylum minister Eric van der Burg said that people who had residency in Ukraine but were not Ukrainian – and who had come to the Netherlands as refugees – could stay for now.
The government had said that this group of “third landers” had to leave the country by September 4. But an expedited verdict from the Council of State found that one of these refugees did not need to be expelled, potentially setting a precedent for other people.
Although fears earlier in the year of a doom scenario of overflowing asylum centres have not been realised, some municipalities take far more than their share of refugees while others hardly have any. With the closure of permanent centres since 2015, many are also in “sub-optimal” conditions such as sports halls, cruise ships or ferries and other temporary accommodation.
An announcement in Belgium that single male refugees will not be accepted this winter, with the priority for families, women and children, sparked some concerns last week that some of these men might apply in the Netherlands.
The fourth Rutte government fell over a failure to reach agreement on restrictions on asylum and it is likely to be a major issue in the November general election.
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