Refugee agency COA fined €1.5 million for Ter Apel overcrowding

The Ter Apel centre last month. Photo: Depositphotos.com

Refugee settlement agency COA has been fined the maximum €1.5 million for exceeding the legal limit on refugee numbers at the Ter Apel centre.

The centre is only licenced to provide accommodation for 2,000 new arrivals, and the local council went to court last year to force the agency to stick to the rules. Judges agreed that the limit should be met and said the COA would have to pay €15,000 a day for every day when the limit was broken.

The limit was kept to on just a handful of days since February 24 when the new rules were introduced.

Westerwolde council now says it plans to hold talks with the COA about what should happen next and has not ruled out further legal action.

The shortage of beds for refugees has worsened in recent weeks because a number of temporary shelters have closed their doors.

In addition, the new coalition’s plan to tear up legislation to make sure refugees are spread around the country has already led some councils to stop looking for potential accommodation.

The problem has been exacerbated by the general shortage of housing. Some 19,500 refugees who have been granted residence permits are still living in refugee centres because of the shortage of regular homes.

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