If the municipality refuses to use a government building as a center for asylum seekers, the Council of Ministers can enforce this from now on. Secretary of State Eric van der Burgh (Asylum) and Minister Hugo de Jong (Public Housing) wrote this to the House of Representatives on Tuesday.
If the municipality does not want to change the destination of a building that can function as a center for asylum seekers, then the Council of Ministers can from now on do so itself. Then the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) can purchase the building and make it suitable for receiving asylum seekers. Ministers wrote that the government would prefer not to have access to this, but would keep this option open from now on.
The refugee crisis is so great that the government needs more avenues “to be able to control when new reception sites are opened.” The Council of Ministers has been in talks with the municipalities for some time to arrange more reception spaces.
During a meeting with cabinet members on Monday, the security districts again urged long-term structural measures. COA has done this before.
By arranging the permits themselves, if necessary, “the government is not bound by the willingness of municipalities to open a COA site,” van der Burg and de Jong write. In this way, buildings owned by the central government can be used as centers for asylum seekers, even if the municipality and residents do not want to.
The government stresses that it is still important to continue to work with the municipality. The city council and local residents should continue to participate and be informed.
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