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Two children walk around the grounds of a refugee reception centre
Source: ANP
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Here is what you can do if you are unhappy with the reception centre
Last updated: 3/28/2024, 8:49 AM

If you are dissatisfied with the reception centre where you are staying, you can talk to COA or the municipality to complain or protest.

COA or the municipality arranges your place in a reception centre

If you apply or want to apply for asylum in the Netherlands, the

Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA)
must provide you with shelter. COA has been given this task by the Dutch government. Agreements have also been made about the requirements the reception centre must meet. Not every reception centre location in the Netherlands belongs to the COA – sometimes the municipality is responsible.

Dissatisfied with reception centre conditions

You may not like the conditions at a reception centre. Poor conditions include:

  • A reception centre that is not suitable for lodging. It is too cold, dirty or there is little privacy.

  • The quality of food in a reception centre is not good.

  • There is no education for children under 18 years of age.

  • There are too few activities at a reception centre.

In conversation with employees at the location

Are you dissatisfied with your reception centre because of any of the above reasons? Or about something else? Then you can first have a conversation with the location employee of your reception centre. Indicate that you want to talk about the problems at the reception centre.

You can prepare for this conversation. For example, by listing the problems for yourself. If you already know solutions to the problems, you can also list them.

Are the facilities in the reception centre not good?
Is the quality of the food not good?
Are there too few activities to do at your reception centre?
Is there no education for children under 18?

Filing a complaint

If you are unable to have a conversation with COA or the municipality, or if the conversation did not improve your stay in the reception centre, you can file a complaint against COA or the municipality about the reception centre. You can file a complaint for several reasons.

Complaining to COA.

There are two ways to file a complaint with COA:

  • You can use COA's complaint form for this purpose. COA's complaints procedure is not intended for complaints about residents. You can contact a COA employee at the location about this.

COA complaint form
Here you will find COA's complaint form in Dutch. Submit the letter to the manager of your location or to COA's Legal Affairs department.

  • You can also file a complaint with COA by letter. Your letter or email must be written in Dutch or English. Send your letter or email to: Legal Affairs Team PO Box 30203 2500 GE The Hague info@coa.nl

Complaining to the municipality

If your reception centre is managed by the municipality and not COA, you must file a complaint with the municipality. How you can file a complaint depends on the municipality. Sometimes you will find information on the reception centre about how to contact your municipality.

Contact details of municipalities
This website contains contact information for all municipalities in the Netherlands. Find the name of the municipality where your reception centre is located here. You can contact the municipality by email, email or phone. Contact can usually only be made in Dutch or English.

Here is what you can do if your complaint is not resolved

Demonstrating about the reception centre

If you are dissatisfied with the reception centre, you are also allowed to protest. In the Netherlands, the right to protest is in the Dutch constitution. This falls under freedom of speech, which applies in the Netherlands. Even if you do not yet have a 5-year asylum residence permit, you are entitled to protest.

If you want to protest, these points are important to you:

  • You must tell the municipality that you are going to protest. Do this 48 hours in advance via your municipality's website. This is because the municipality must support your protest. For example, if you need traffic controllers for your protest, the municipality must arrange this for you. If you are going to protest on your own, you do not have to let them know.

  • You do not need a permit to protest, nor do you need government permission.

  • The police may not simply break up your protest. Only the mayor of the municipality can restrict or ban your protest.

  • While you are demonstrating the police should protect you from public.

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