Tuesday 30 November 2021

Safety boards agree to act on housing for refugees as crisis deepens

Outside the Ter Apel refugee centre. Photo: Vincent Jannick ANP

The Netherlands 25 regional safety boards have agreed to find an extra 800 beds to cope with the rising number of asylum seekers needing accommodation, Nijmegen mayor and board chairman Hubert Bruls has said.

On Monday, justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus made an urgent appeal for help in finding places for people to live – particularly young refugees who are in the Netherlands without other family members.

News of a potential breakthrough comes as the mayor of Westerwolde, which covers the refugee reception centre at Ter Apel, issued a grim warning about conditions at the Groningen location.

On Monday night, 429 people slept in the marquees which have been erected as emergency accommodation, but there are only beds for 275, he said.

‘If you are putting up so many people in a space meant for 275, then that will have consequences for public health,’ Jaap Velema said. ‘We want to be able to house a normal amount of people.’

The shortage of accommodation is due both an increase in refugee numbers and to the nationwide housing crisis, which means there is nowhere for asylum seekers who have been granted refugee status to move to.

Some 11,000 out of 30,000 beds in regular refugee centres are currently lived in by people who have residency permits and are waiting to be settled in normal housing. In addition, thousands of people are still waiting for their cases to be assessed by the immigration service IND.

Meanwhile, the first 560 Afghan nationals brought out of Kabul this summer have been given formal refugee status in the Netherlands.

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