Friday 03 February 2023

Separate refugees on ethnic and religious lines, say Dutch police

netherlands borderThe Dutch police union NBP has urged refugee settlement agency COA to separate asylum seekers along ethnic and religious lines, the AD reports on Tuesday.

If different groups are not kept separate, there is likely to be more trouble at refugee centres, the paper quotes the union as saying. ‘Our involvement at refugee centres used to be minimal but that threatens to change,’ union chairman Han Busker told the paper.

The COA should think properly about how it divides up refugees, Busker said. ‘That is in everyone’s interest, including that of the refugees,’ he said. ‘Things will be quieter and calmer for them as well.’

The COA told the paper it had no intention of changing current policy of mixing refugees of different backgrounds. ‘That has not been our policy for 20 years,’ a spokesman said. ‘The COA’s experience is that mixed groups make for a better living situation as well as being more manageable.’

The police call for separate facilities follows fights at a refugee centre in the village of Overburg near Utrecht last week. Some 40 police officers and two dog handlers were involved in breaking up the trouble between rival groups of young men.


Meanwhile, Halbe Zijlstra, leader of the ruling parliamentary party VVD, told the Telegraaf that refugees who are guilty of violence or intimidation should be refused a residency permit.

‘As far as we are concerned, they can go back,’ he said. ‘And refugees who think they can introduce Sharia law would be better asking for asylum in an Islamic country like Saudi Arabia. The Netherlands is the wrong place for them.’

He and fellow VVD MP Malik Azmani have called on junior justice minister Klaas Dijkhoff to answer questions about refugees who ‘misbehave’.


Dutch mayors, who are responsible for local refugee centres, have also criticised the COA for not having the situation under control.

The alarm was sounded by Heerenveen mayor Tjeerd van der Zwan who says he is concerned about the services being offered to the 200 refugees in his town, who are living  in a sports centre.

‘I consider these people to be temporary residents and I cannot accept that they are not receiving proper care,’ he said. The group includes several pregnant women but problems with the paperwork mean they cannot be given the care they need, Van der Zwan says.


Van der Zwan had been expecting 186 refugees but 204 turned up and not all had the proper registration documents, the mayor said.

‘I understand the difficult situation in which the COA finds itself but there is a bottom line, and that is what I, as a mayor, have to monitor,’ Van der Zwan said.

However, both the COA and local authorities’ association VNG said they are unaware of any major problems. All refugees are first registered at the Ter Apel reception centre and then taken to their accommodation, a COA spokesman said.

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