Council agrees to expulsion centre
8 June 2004
AMSTERDAM — A town council in Groningen province approved on Monday night the establishment of an asylum seeker expulsion centre, thwarting a threatened crisis after the Dutch government failed to win approval for three other centres.
Vlagtwedde Council backed the request lodged by the central organisation in charge of asylum seeker shelters, COA, despite unrest at the start of the meeting as protestors demonstrated against the deportation centre planned for the town of Ter Appel.
Police asked members of the refugee lobby groups Comité van Harte Pardon, Vluchtelingen Vrij and the Steunpunt Vluchtelingen to leave the council chambers. Police eventually forcibly removed several stubborn protestors and carried out up to 10 arrests.
The Dutch Cabinet agreed earlier this year to grant a residence permit to about 2,300 long-term asylum seekers under a special amnesty arrangement. Amid public protests and municipal council concerns, the government also said it planned to deport 26,000 others over the next three years.
The plan ran into trouble when the Eindhoven and Hilversum councils voted against the establishment of deportation centres within their municipal borders. Consent by the Vlagtwedde Council is thus good news for the government, news agency ANP reported.
Eleven Vlagtwedde councilors voted in favour of the deportation centre and five voted against. Among the votes cast, the Christian Democrat CDA, Liberal VVD, ChristenUnie backed the proposal, while the Labour PvdA was divided and green-Left GroenLinks voted against it.
The deportation centre will house 400 asylum seekers earmarked for deportation. There is currently the same number of asylum seekers living in the existing refugee shelter in Ter Appel.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news