Monday 02 August 2021

Take the long way round, well-heeled Oegstgeest tells refugees


Christian Democrat councillors in the town of Oegstgeest in Zuid-Holland province have withdrawn a motion which would have required refugees to avoid walking through a well-off neighbourhood on their way to the shops.

The CDA motion to divert refugees away from the well-heeled Wilhelminapark residential area, which is on the shortest route to the shops from the refugee complex, was meant to ‘meet sensitive issues in the neighbourhood’, CDA group leader Eibertjan van Blitterswijk told local paper Leidschdagblad.

Most of the area’s residents had spoken out against the arrival of the refugees, the paper said.

A majority of Oegstgeest local council voted to house 175 refugees with residency permits in a row of terraced flats and houses close to the town hall as long as they form ‘a homogenous’ group.

Now the suggestion that the refugees avoid the Wilhelminapark area has been retracted following criticism but ‘advice for a proper walking route to the shops for refugees’ is still an option, the paper said.

The suggestion was slated by Hart voor Oegstgeest councillor Karin Rosdorff who said it reminded her of segregation. ‘I get the feeling of a bus in which the whites sit in the front and the others in the back,’ she told the paper.

Van Blitterswijk retracted the motion because the town’s social affairs chief Jan Nieuwenhuis said he would talk to refugee settlement agency COA about ‘a good route to the shops.

‘It’s normal that COA coaches refugees about things like this,’ he said.

As yet no refugees have moved to the complex and the COA has not yet formally made a request to be given access to it. How quickly the refugees will be settled there will depend on possible legal action by locals, the paper said.

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