Sunday 17 October 2021

Minister urges mayors to find homes for new refugees

netherlands borderThe Dutch cabinet has allocated an extra €58.5m to take care of refugees outside Europe and is urging councils to find more beds and houses to accommodate those who make it to the Netherlands, the Volkskrant says on Friday.

The influx of refugees from war zones like Syria and Iraq is so great that extra capacity is needed in the short term, ministers say. The Netherlands is one of the EU countries which has agreed to take extra refugees under a scheme designed to ease the burden on Greece and Italy.

Junior immigration minister Klaas Dijkhoff tells the Volkskrant in an interview to be published on Saturday that he has been personally phoning local mayors urging them to help.

This approach is not always successful, he says. ‘Sometimes they say “it is very difficult here”. Yes, it is difficult everywhere,’ Dijkhoff tells the paper.

‘To put it bluntly, I need mayors, aldermen and councillors with guts,’ he says. ‘And I am asking everyone to accept that care centres will be established in their neighbourhoods.’ Unconventional housing such as empty office blocks are also suitable, the minister says.

War

Dijkhoff expects the number of refugees admitted to the Netherlands will rise 40% this year to around 35,000. Most are fleeing the war in Syria and the brutal regime in Eritrea.

Earlier this month a survey by the Volkskrant found 45% of people in the Netherlands do not want any more immigration and Dijkstra’s own VVD thinks all refugees should be housed outside Europe.

‘I am a major supporter of settling refugees in their home region,’ Dijkhoff says. ‘But there are people who appeal to the Netherlands. And we must help people fleeing from war.’

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