The capacity of the asylum reception system in the Netherlands is reaching its limits, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said during his weekly press conference. Everything possible is being done to prevent asylum seekers from having to sleep in the grass outside the application center in Ter Apel, as was the reality for many weeks last summer. “These are scenes that we want to prevent as a Cabinet. But with the current influx, we cannot give any guarantees about this.”
“In the short term, we want to manage the situation,” said Rutte, referring to the package of measures announced by State Secretary Eric van der Burg (Asylum Affairs) on Wednesday. These short-term measures should prevent people from having to sleep in the grass, Rutte said. At the same time, “we must continue to work hard on measures to manage the entire migration flow.” In addition to asylum migration, this also concerns labor and knowledge migration.
Some members of the Cabinet – including Rutte, Van der Burg and Ministers Sigrid Kaag (Finance), Dilan Yeşilgöz (Justice) and Hugo de Jonge (Housing) – have been discussing a strategic migration policy for some time. The frequency of these meetings has recently been increased to twice weekly. Rutte thinks it will take a few more weeks before the policy can be presented. It is unclear what kind of measures will be included in the policy.
Rutte also does not want to give more details about that. Despite the major differences between the four coalition parties, Rutte thinks that the Cabinet will figure out a solution, “because all parties want it. Everyone sees that it is stalling on all aspects, but on the other hand we want this to remain a country that offers shelter to people fleeing war and violence.”
The plan that Van der Burg sent to the Tweede Kamer on Wednesday states, among other things, that municipalities may not set requirements for the type of asylum seeker they want to take in. If municipalities continue to do so, asylum seekers will in “the worst case scenario” be placed in reception locations where municipalities only want to receive women and children, for example. Asylum seekers can also be accommodated in hotels, “unsolicited if necessary.”
Reporting by ANP