Due to the high influx of asylum seekers, it is possible that newcomers to the Netherlands may once again have to sleep outside the main asylum reception center in Ter Apel, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Friday at a press conference. “It is impossible to guarantee that it won’t happen.” He explained that the current high number of asylum seekers could again lead to instances of “people in meadows.”
The government faced criticism for the situation in Ter Apel last year. By the end of the summer, hundreds of asylum seekers frequently slept outdoors in deplorable conditions due to insufficient space inside the center. Aid organizations such as the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders stepped in to help. State Secretary Eric van der Burg, who handles government policy on asylum issues, then took measures to prevent asylum seekers from having to stay outside any longer.
The Cabinet has had lengthy, ongoing discussions about migration issues. Rutte said after the Council of Ministers meeting on Friday that decisions are being prepared and that there is political will to move forward. However, he acknowledged that it is “always a long-term issue” which is “extremely complex and international,” pointing out that other countries face similar problems.
Rutte said he does not expect the discussions to result in a “big, tough package” of measures. Some measures have already been announced, while other plans “can be fine-tuned,” he added. Although he initially expected domestic measures to be introduced in late March or early April, he is now hesitant to set a specific date.
Rutte noted that it is “obvious” that additional measures beyond the coalition agreement will be implemented.
Immigration a sensitive issue within the coalition, as D66 and ChristenUnie advocate for a progressive asylum policy. According to the prime minister, the coalition is in agreement that there are “concerns” regarding different forms of migration, including knowledge migration, labor migration, and asylum.
Reporting by ANP
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