Refugee settlement agency COA has been given four weeks to reduce the number of asylum seekers at the Ter Apel reception centre to the regulation 2,000, following a court ruling.
Westerwolde council, which includes Ter Apel, took the agency to court for failing to stick to the 2,000 limit which was set in 2010 and has been exceeded for much of the past few years.
The centre has been struggling to cope with hundreds more people than the regulation number because of shortages of accommodation for refugees elsewhere.
The court also said the COA would be fined €15,000 a day for every day it does not comply with the measure.
Earlier this month nine Groningen mayors, as well as the king’s commissioner for the province, René Paas, wrote to caretaker justice minister Dilan Yesilgöz and junior minister for asylum, Eric van der Burg, accusing the cabinet of “wilfully” allowing the crisis to develop.
Justice ministry inspectors have also said the building was not compliant with fire safety standards, meaning it could not be evacuated safely, while the number of violent incidents was increasing.
“We find it incomprehensible and unacceptable that this can happen in this country,” the leaders wrote in a letter cited by Nieuwsuur.
On Tuesday the senate voted in favour of legislation which is supposed to ensure refugees are spread more fairly around the country. That legislation gives ministers the power to order councils to provide accommodation.
Around one third of the Netherlands 342 local authorities have not provided any housing for refugees for the past 12 years.
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