Friday 04 December 2020

Councils agree to find homes for asylum seekers

klaas dijkhoffOver the next six months, 10,000 refugees with leave to stay in the Netherlands will be moved into permanent housing to free up places in asylum seeker centres.

This is the most important decision reached by an emergency meeting held on Friday between ministers, local councils and the provinces to discuss how to house the refugees arriving in the Netherlands.

Junior justice minister Klaas Dijkhoff told a press conference it was ‘a very good meeting’ during which all parties showed a willingness to jointly solve the problem of housing asylum seekers.

Small scale

The parties also agreed they would look for emergency housing for newly arrived refugees both on a small scale such as in sports centres and like the camp of tents for 3,000 refugees near Nijmegen.

Dijkhoff also said ministers will look at the possibility of withdrawing the rule giving approved refugees priority in social housing, which is seen as unfair on locals who have been waiting for a suitable affordable home for years.

Whether the option of building thousands of quickly erected prefab and container homes is part of the solution is still unclear.

Support

Jan van Zanen of the local government association VNG said public support is vital, and councils must not be forced to take groups of refugees. This will avoid a repetition of the scenes on Wednesday in the Drenthe village of Oranje when angry locals blocked roads to prevent more asylum seekers arriving after a commitment to limit refugee numbers was broken.

‘We must stand shoulder to shoulder to solve this,’ Van Zanen said, adding that councils would need more money to pay for the solution. However, there were no concrete agreements about money during the morning meeting.

 

 

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