Short and long-term measures to tackle the asylum crisis

The asylum crisis, which is at its most visible at the application centre in Ter Apel, calls for additional measures in the short, medium and long term. Security regions, municipalities, implementing organisations, social organisations and central government are working hard on many fronts. The government is also looking at potential changes to its asylum and migration policy.

Over the past few months, we have seen harrowing images of people – who are waiting for their asylum procedure to begin – sleeping outside on chairs or on the grass. There are not enough reception spaces for asylum seekers, and not enough asylum permit holders are leaving to take up accommodation elsewhere. Over the past few weeks, the government has looked at every possible way of working together with the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA), municipalities and security regions to find a rapid solution to the problem. So far, this has not led to a breakthrough. Consequently, new measures are needed.

In talks over additional spaces

To start with, additional emergency reception spaces must be created. The government is in talks with municipalities and security regions to create another 225 emergency reception spaces per security region. In addition, they are being asked, where possible, to use some of the municipal reception spaces for refugees from Ukraine. This relies on the willingness and availability of municipalities.

Accelerated transfer of asylum permit holders

The Task Force for the Acceleration of Temporary Accommodation (Taskforce Versnelling Tijdelijke Huisvesting) has been set up to help municipalities build flexible housing. Some of these properties will also be available to asylum permit holders. In the medium term, work is under way on new reception facilities and the use of cruise ships to create additional reception spaces. In addition, the COA has been tasked with providing temporary shelters and other mobile facilities as quickly as possible.

New reception centres

The government understands that this is asking a lot of the regions. Particularly since, in many places, a huge amount of effort has already been made to welcome asylum seekers and refugees. However, the reception crisis demonstrates that there are still not enough emergency and other reception centres. The government is therefore deploying extraordinary means: the spatial planning instruments (ruimtelijke ordeningsinstrumentarium). These allow the government to take over the granting of licences for new reception centres, thereby enabling it to use government property for reception purposes. Currently, 2 locations are being considered, which between them could create a total of some 1,000 reception spaces. This is being discussed with the municipalities concerned When using these instruments, the government believes that it is crucial to work closely with the municipality and to involve the municipal council and local residents closely in the process and keep them well informed.

Fair and effective

The asylum crisis also calls for a longer-term approach. The security regions have, with good reason, urged the government to put in place structural measures. The government is therefore exploring a number of options by preparing decisions on both European and national policy. In addition, partly at the request of municipalities, a bill is being drawn up that makes it mandatory for municipalities to receive asylum seekers, with legal instruments available should they be necessary.

Tackling this crisis is a major social challenge. It is crucial to ensure that the harrowing situation of the asylum seekers is brought to an end as quickly as possible and that we continue to build a fair and effective asylum and migration policy.