Tuesday 11 August 2020

Talk to councils about refugees with no home before the winter, Labour MPs tell minister

DEEL BEWONERS VLUCHTKERK NAAR DAKLOZENOPVANGDivisions between the two coalition parties emerged on Thursday during a debate on emergency accommodation for would-be asylum seekers who have lost their appeal to stay.

Earlier this month, the Council of Europe said the Netherlands must ensure everyone living in the country has food, clothes and shelter and that includes failed asylum seekers who are not cooperating with efforts to deport them.

The Netherlands has a policy of evicting failed asylum seekers from refugee centres if they refuse to cooperate with their deportation.


Labour MPs want junior justice minister Fred Teeven to talk to local councils about how best to provide the failed asylum seekers with ‘bed and board’. However, the VVD says this group should not be ‘rewarded’ for failing to cooperate with plans to deport them.

Teeven has said he will wait for a final ruling on the issue by the 47 ministers attached to the Council of Europe next year before deciding what to do.

Refugee organisation Vluchtelingenwerk estimates some 5,000 would-be refugees are turned out onto the street every year. Many of them remain in the country and live illegally. A large group is currently squatting in empty buildings in Amsterdam.

While Labour MPs say they support the government’s line, they still want Teeven to talk to the local authorities, nu.nl reports. ‘Some form of accommodation is desirable,’ Labour MP Attje Kuiken said during the debate

Opposition parties also want Teeven to take action before the winter sets in. However, the minister says there is already provision for emergency shelters during spells of hard frost. ‘That is nothing new,’ he said.

Local councils which do provide some form of accommodation will not be refunded by the state, Teeven warned.

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