Minister relents on asylum seeker shelter
30 July 2004 , AMSTERDAM — Responding to ongoing concerns, Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk has confirmed she will provide temporary accommodation to rejected asylum seekers who cannot be immediately ejected from the Netherlands.
30 July 2004
AMSTERDAM — Responding to ongoing concerns, Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk has confirmed she will provide temporary accommodation to rejected asylum seekers who cannot be immediately ejected from the Netherlands.
A Justice Ministry spokesman said the minister will inform MPs by letter on Friday about her decision, Dutch news agency ANP reported.
The announcement comes after the Groningen Queen's Commissioner, Hans Alders, urged municipal councils in the northern province on Thursday to refuse co-operating with throwing asylum seekers out on the street simply because they cannot be provided with temporary shelter.
Alders said evicting asylum seekers from refugee shelters is not desirable at present because there is insufficient capacity in deportation detention centres.
Just one such centre has been established, at Ter Appel in Groningen. The Eindhoven and Hilversum councils have previously voted against the establishment of deportation centres within their municipal borders.
The Dutch government said earlier this year it will deport 26,000 rejected asylum seekers who failed to win a residence permit in an amnesty offered to about 2,300 others. The amnesty was designed to clear a backlog of cases with the much-criticised immigration service IND.
But the plan has met with stiff opposition. The four largest Dutch cities previously raised concerns with Minister Verdonk about the plan, warning that they did not want homeless asylum seekers roaming city streets.
Despite this, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht city councils recently promised the minister that they would help in the search for more deportation detention centre locations.
Alders said that in the absence of more detention centres, Groningen municipalities do not have to co-operate with evicting rejected asylum seekers from refugee shelters. This is also due to the fact that mayors are not informed if the asylum seekers are co-operating with their deportation.
He refused to rule out the possibility that Groningen councils will come into conflict with the Justice Ministry. The IND and the central refugee shelter association COA — which carry out Verdonk's policies — can continually order evictions from refugee shelters.
The problem affects asylum seekers who arrived in the Netherlands after 1 April 2001, when new, more stringent immigration laws came into effect to restrict the flow of new arrivals.
These asylum seekers do not come into consideration for a new regulation, but they also fall outside the regulation that applies to asylum seekers who arrived when the old immigration legislation was still in place.
But if the evictions lead to public order problems, Alders said the municipalities do not need to co-operate with the operation.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news