Minister writes to refugees, warning of ‘austere reception’
The Dutch government has taken another step in discouraging asylum seekers to come to the Netherlands by writing an open letter warning them about the ‘austere reception’ they can expect.
The English language letter, signed by junior justice minister Klaas Dijkhoff, tells asylum seekers that the country does not have enough room at regular reception centres. ‘That is why you are receiving an austere reception such as in sports centres or tents, where many people share the same lodgings.’
It goes on to state that it takes almost ‘half a year’ for applications to be processed and that ‘once it is decided you cannot stay, you must leave the Netherlands immediately’.
People who are given temporary residence permits may have to live in ‘a container house or a converted office building’ and share these with other people, the letter says. It also points out that family members will not be allowed in until permits have been finalised and this ‘can take a long time’.
Dijkstra told television chat show Pauw on Monday night that the aim of the letter is to make sure asylum seekers are aware of what is waiting for them. ‘It is not a nice message, but it is important,’ the minister said.
Last week some 2,200 asylum seekers came to the Netherlands, down from 2,500 in the week before. The government expects this year’s total to reach around 6,000.
Meanwhile, the construction industry’s economic institute EIB says it expects the refugee stream to boost the building sector considerably, thanks to the programme to build new homes.
It calculates some 50,000 extra homes will have to be built by 2020, providing 9,000 new jobs and €5bn in turnover.