The group leaders of the municipality of Westewolde met this evening for a special meeting about the places placed in the asylum seekers’ center in Ter Apel. Mayor Jaap Velema noted the situation, where asylum seekers have to sleep the ground because there is no more, unacceptable. He wants help from The Hague.
Last week asylum seekers slept on chairs and stretchers because the influx was bigger than the center could handle.
Velema is very concerned about the situation. “Last week we were in the situation, eventually 600 people slept in the shelter. While normally 100 people can stay, with an extension to 250,” he says in news hour. “In addition, 150 people also slept in the offices and waiting areas of the IND.”
The problem has arisen as the number of people who report to the center has accumulated. It is for big crowds. “You come in, report to the IND and then go through the health check. Then you go to the night shelter, the next day you come to the asylum seekers center. If such a process gets stuck because too many people come or because it goes wrong, you get a build-up in the night shelter.”
According to Velema, this is not only substantial for the people who are being cared for, but also for the employees and security. “It’s an unacceptable situation.”
The Hague points to COA
The COA says it will arrange thousands of extra arrangements, but only from November. Mayor Velema has contacted The Hague for more help. According to him, with “understanding”, but then again with a reference to the COA. State Secretary Broekers-Knol indicated on Tuesday that 3000 places will be added from November.
These asylum seekers tell Nieuwsuur that it is still busy:
‘Then they kicked us out, we’re leaving’
news hour has asked State Secretary Ankie Broekers-Knol of Asylum Affairs for clarification, but she again refers to the COA. “And they do not want to speak to us further,” says political reporter Arjan Noorlander.
Broekers-Knol says once again that 3000 places will be added in various barracks from 1 November. “There is no guarantee,” says Noorlander. “It is a quest, also here in The Hague, to find a solution, because the entire asylum chain is enormous. There are people in shelters for whom there are no houses in the Netherlands. There are people who have already heard that they have to leave the country, but who do not go or cannot leave.”
Mayors are not excited
Broekers-Knol hopes that municipalities will have elders in the country to help asylum seekers. “But many mayors are not keen on that,” says Noorlander. “They know that it leads to tensions and political hassle. So there is great restraint.”
Sounds are heard from, among others, the Rijnmond region to help out. “Rotterdam wants to make available a boat that was used last year for the shelter of the homeless. That boat can accommodate ninety people. Those are not the large numbers needed to quickly solve this problem,” says Noorlander.
Broekers-Knol will speak with the other regions tomorrow, but will not help with the reception.
But this task is beyond Westerwolde.
Mayor Velema is not only concerned, but also “very, very angry” about the attitude of politicians in The Hague. She must come up with a solution, says Velema.
Replacing tents, like a few years ago, he considered unacceptable. “We are not going to do it. No tents will be added. We experienced that in 2015 and 2016. There was then a certain willingness in the Netherlands to make something of it together. And now Ter Apel is left with it.”
Velema says that the asylum seekers who now find it difficult to get a place to sleep will not be abandoned by the Westerwolde municipality. “But this task is beyond Westerwolde.”
The mayor is concerned about what he describes as “a group of hooligans”. he is referring to asylum seekers from countries that are considered safe, and in principle have no chance of obtaining a residence permit.
“They come from Algeria and Morocco and lead a nomadic existence through Europe. They use this situation to see if they can get bed, bath and bread. And maybe asylum. That’s not what Ter Apel is intended for and Den Haag must help us to be a normal AZC again.”