Government takes radical action to alleviate asylum reception crisis

The situation in the crowded application centre in Ter Apel is untenable. Currently, asylum seekers arriving at the centre cannot be received, and there are not enough emergency or other reception spaces to accommodate people. Immediate measures are needed to alleviate the situation without delay. Administrative agreements have been drawn up in this regard and will be reported on separately. In addition to this, the government has decided on far-reaching measures to control the number of refugees arriving at the centre and to facilitate the outflow of those who have obtained a permit to remain in the Netherlands.

In the immediate term, people who are living outside the gates of the application centre in Ter Apel will be given clarification regarding their identification and registration appointment with the police and when they can apply for this in Ter Apel.

The Ministry of Defence is making available a location that can accommodate asylum seekers who currently have to spend the night outside the application centre in Ter Apel. The Ministry of Defence will also help build the location and transport asylum seekers to and from Ter Apel. People will then be offered accommodation in an emergency reception centre in a nearby municipality.

Until now, people who obtained asylum status in the Netherlands could always bring their families over immediately. As things stand, in most cases, these families arrive at Ter Apel, and only after far too long a wait at other crowded asylum seeker centres. This is no longer acceptable. It has therefore been decided that families of asylum permit holders can only come to the Netherlands if suitable accommodation is available for them.

Secondly, up to the end of 2023, the Netherlands will no longer be admitting people under the EU-Turkey Statement. Since 2016, the Netherlands has admitted a considerable number of Syrians under these agreements. Only Germany took more. The government still believes these agreements are important and will begin implementing them again from 2024. But as things stand, it would not be responsible to do so.

Finally, agreements have been made with the municipalities to facilitate the transfer of asylum permit holders out of the asylum reception centres. Up to and including 2024, 37,500 temporary dwellings will be created. The government and all the local and regional authorities are prioritising provision of the locations and preparations for construction. This should result in a flexible layer of temporary dwellings for people who urgently need accommodation and who have been on a waiting list for a long time, and for people who have obtained the right to remain in the Netherlands after having fled from war and violence.

The measures have significant drawbacks, so they are temporary in nature and will be phased out as soon as possible. For the time being, however, they are unavoidable, says Minister for Migration, Eric Van der Burg, ‘It’s dreadful to see how many people are having to sleep outside every night because there aren’t enough reception spaces available. This can’t go on.’

Hugo De Jonge, Minister for Housing and Spatial Planning, says,

‘This package of measures is radical and bold, but it's the only way we can limit inflow and kick-start outflow quickly. We are doing this for everyone who urgently needs accommodation: people who have been on the waiting list for a long time and people who have obtained the right to remain in the Netherlands.’