Sunday 17 January 2021

Many refugee centres to remain closed as fewer asylum seekers reach NL

Accommodation for refugees at Ter Apel in Drenthe.

Photo: Justice ministry

Over half the 40 refugee centres set to open in the coming months are unlikely to go into operation, broadcaster NOS said on Thursday after polling local councils.

At least 24 of the planned centres are likely to remain shut because far fewer refugees are arriving in the Netherlands than had been expected, the broadcaster said.

The 40 centres would have provided beds for up to 20,000 people. Later on Thursday, officials from the refugee settlement agency COA will meet government and local government staff to discuss how to proceed.

Some local officials are angry about the current impasse. Breda city council, for example, bought a former tax office building to convert into a refugee centre and now faces a financial setback.

Hilversum mayor Pieter Broertjes is also angry that the town’s emergency centre will not be converted into a permanent one. He says that after all the problems he had winning acceptance for the plan, it is undermining local government not to go forward.

Broadcaster RTL news said last month nearly 40% of the beds in the Netherlands’ refugee centres and emergency shelters are empty. in July, 2,260 refugees came to the Netherlands, compared with 4,789 in July 2015.

At the end of July the COA said it is closing 15 emergency locations in the next few weeks because of a falling number of new arrivals.

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