Dutch prepare 3,000-place camp for refugees
The Netherlands said Wednesday it is preparing to set up a temporary centre close to Germany to house some 3,000 people as Europe's refugee crisis begins to spill over its borders.
So far unlike countries such as Hungary, Greece and Germany, Holland has been relatively untouched by the huge flow of migrants into the continent.
Although no figures were immediately available, Dutch officials told AFP the number of asylum requests has "dramatically increased".
Several cities have already begun to take in some refugees, with Amsterdam promising to host 1,500 migrants and Utrecht a further 500.
"These people have left their countries to come here, and we have to do something," Hubert Bruls, mayor of the eastern town of Nimegen, close to the German border, told a press conference Wednesday.
"We can talk for days about borders and how to welcome them, but these people are on our doorstep."
The centre will be set up an area more often used for camping and where next June a Paralympic event is due to be held.
It will be the largest centre of its kind in the Netherlands and would mainly house people whose requests for asylum are being processed -- something which can take an estimated 15 weeks.
Gerard Bakker, head of the government-linked organisation which will oversee the camp, did not reveal how the refugees would be housed, speaking only of "pavilions."
The accommodation "will be humane, but not fancy," he said, adding his organisation has also been in talks with 200-400 local municipalities to see how they could help.
Electricity, showers and toilet stalls would be put in place, as well as Internet connections.
The area in Nimegen was used previously as a refugee camp in 1990 and 1998 when it gave shelter to hundreds of people, mainly those fleeing from the war in Kosovo, Dutch media reported.
As Europe buckles under its worst refugee crisis since World War II, EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker last week called on the 28 member states of the European Union to welcome some 120,000 refugees currently spread across Hungary, Greece and Italy.
EU members however had failed to agree so far how the refugees should be shared out among states.
Under Juncker's plan, the Netherlands is due to take in just over 7,000 migrants. The Dutch government has not opposed the size of its quota, but called for agreement on the plan urging an "integrated approach."
© 2015 AFP