Emergency asylum shelter degrading: Dutch Ombudsmen

The National Ombudsman and Children’s Ombudsman called the crisis emergency shelters for asylum seekers in the Netherlands degrading. They said so in the research report “The Crisis is Over,” published on Tuesday. Various other organizations, including the Red Cross, also recently published reports with the same conclusion.

The two ombudsmen note that the crisis emergency shelter for asylum seekers is not being used as intended. Margrite Kalverboer and Reinier van Zutphen see that thousands of asylum seekers are currently staying at these locations for months, while they are intended for short-term reception in emergency situations and are, therefore, allowed to meet lower quality standards. “We have to get rid of the word crisis. In temporary situations, you can sometimes shift what you find acceptable. But we are past the crisis, and this is unacceptable,” said Van Zutphen, the National Ombudsman.

In the report, Kalverboer and Van Zutphen make several recommendations to municipalities and security regions, which organize crisis shelters on behalf of the government. Asylum seekers in emergency shelters should receive better housing with more privacy, as well as education and “meaningful daytime activities.” According to the ombudsmen, the government should also stop moving families from shelter to shelter and give children’s interests more priority. Children’s Ombudsman Kalverboer: “The interests of children matter too little, while the impact on their lives is enormous.”

State Secretary Eric van der Burg (Asylum) said a few days ago that crisis emergency shelters in the Netherlands must indeed be improved. He responded to a report from the Red Cross, Doctors of the World, and expertise center Pharos, saying it was making asylum seekers sick. On Wednesday, the permanent parliamentary committee for Justice and Security will debate the asylum policy. Crisis emergency shelters are also on the agenda.

Reporting by ANP

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