Despite the fall in refugee numbers, more beds are still needed

The Dutch refugee settlement agency COA needs 1,800 extra beds for new arrivals because the regular refugee centres are full, junior justice minister Ankie Broekers-Knol has told MPs.

Efforts to find permanent new spaces have so far failed and the COA is now looking for large locations which can be used as temporary accommodation for short periods, the minister said.

Some 27,000 people are currently living in refugee centres. Thousands of them are waiting to have their claims processed and others, who have been granted refugee status, are waiting for housing to become available so they can move out.

Warning

Refugee organisation Vluchtelingenwerk said the shortage of beds is down to official ineptitude. It warned in 2018 that more beds would be needed unless procedures were speeded up.

Some 9,000 new arrivals are still waiting to start their application for refugee status, broadcaster NOS quoted the agency as saying.

New arrivals

Last year, 26,700 refugees and their family members came to the Netherlands. Of the total, 4,200 people arrived to join close relatives who had already been granted refugee status.

Most new refugees continue to come from Syria, with Syrians accounting for 3,700 first-time claims last year.

Last month it emerged that some 25% of Dutch first-time refugee requests come from people with no hope of gaining asylum in the Netherlands.

Of the 2019 new arrivals, 5,575 were Nigerian, Algerian, Moldovan and Moroccan nationals. Pressure is now mounting on the government to take tougher action against ‘pointless’ cases, with both the ruling VVD and the Socialist Party calling for change.

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