Monday 27 March 2023

Appeal court says refugee housing is bad but can’t be solved short term

Some refugees are living in tents. Photo:

The Dutch state is breaking international standards in the way it has organised accommodation for asylum seekers but it is impossible to quickly realise more beds, appeal court judges in The Hague said on Tuesday.

The ruling means that the cabinet cannot be required by law to take measures to boost the supply of refugee housing in the short term.

In October, a lower court ruled that the Netherlands was not meeting international standards and said the government should ensure every asylum seeker had access to a roof over their heads, food, water and sanitary provisions. The court also ordered the state to take immediate action.

But the state and refugee settlement agency appealed, arguing they needed more time to comply. The appeal court has now ruled in their favour.

‘Meeting [the requirements] has stranded and there are too few beds to accommodate people to comply,’ the court said. ‘It is also clear that the national housing shortage is contributing to the shortage of beds.’

Refugee aid group Vluchtelingenwerk had argued that refugees should be put up in empty government buildings or holiday parks, but the court disagreed, pointing out that there is a major shortage of workers to set such projects up.


The appeal court also said that the Dutch state had made an unlawful distinction between refugees from Ukraine and asylum seekers from other countries.Both groups are fleeing war and violence and no difference should be made in the reception of these groups,’ the court said.The state must therefore treat these groups equally.’

Refugees from Ukraine have been admitted to the Netherlands without going through asylum procedures and they are allowed to work directly.

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