Most towns and villages provide no refugee housing, richest towns worst

Refugees at Ter Apel

Refugees at Ter Apel asylum centre.Photo: Peter de Ruiter/ UNHCR Brussel

A large majority of Dutch local authorities have not provided any long-term accommodation for refugees over the past 10 years, broadcaster RTL reported on Saturday.

The research also shows that nearly all of the 25 poorest local authorities in the country have provided temporary housing for refugees at some point since 2012, while just three of the richest 25 have done so.

Bible belt towns and villages are also far less likely to have housed a refugee centre, the figures, from refugee settlement agency COA, show.

In total, 194 of the 345 Dutch local authority areas have not made any accommodation available – although some have provided short term, emergency help, RTL said.

The figures do not include emergency accommodation in sports halls, schools or tents.

Groningen province, which is home to the Ter Apel reception centre, has provided more accommodation than most, and large parts of Noord and Zuid Holland, Utrecht, Noord-Brabant and Limburg have failed to provide any beds at all, RTL said.

Junior justice minister Erik van der Burg, who is in charge of refugees, said the provision of accommodation was unfairly divided up across the country. ‘If you look at the map… you can see that the North does a lot, and we have to make sure the west of the country plays its part,’ he said.

Officials say 18,500 beds more beds are needed this year. Some 16,000 people who have been granted refugee status are still living in COA centres because of the shortage of regular housing.

New legislation which comes into effect on October 1 will allow the minister to force local authorities to provide accommodation.

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