Minister moves refugees to hotels to ease pressure on Ter Apel

Refugees at Ter Apel
Refugees at Ter Apel asylum centre.Photo: Peter de Ruiter/ UNHCR Brussel

Some 1,360 refugees who have residency permits but cannot yet move to a permanent house are to be placed in hotels to relieve pressure on the Ter Apel reception centre, junior justice minister Erik van der Burg said on Tuesday.

The shortage of regular housing means thousands of refugees who should now be living in the community are still stuck in refugee centres.

In total, some 16,000 refugees who have been given licence to stay in the Netherlands are still living in the centres and 10,000 of them have been waiting for more than 14 weeks. 

The refugees who are being moved to hotels have all been waiting for a home for more than 14 weeks and expected to move in shortly, hence the temporary stay, Van der Burg told MPs in a briefing.

Van der Burg told MPs that he is doing “absolutely everything” he can to limit the number of people in Ter Apel to below 2,000, and described the current situation as “critical”. 

Last week government inspectors again sounded the alarm about the centre, in particular about hygiene standards and fire safety. 

Last month COA said it would contact 45 municipalities that are failing to meet their obligations to provide shelter under a plan agreed between local mayors and provinces earlier in the month.

The justice ministry has warned that the number of refugees with a permit to stay who are living in asylum seeker accommodation – which is intended for those whose claims are still being processed – could reach 21,000 by 2025 unless councils find alternatives.

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