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Frank Candel together with a lawyer for Vluchtelingenwerk Nederland in the courtroom
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Court ruling: asylum reception centres must improve
Published at: 12/20/2022, 12:24 PM

The reception centres for refugees must be more humane. The court has decided this. VluchtelingenWerk (VWN) filed a lawsuit against the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) and the Dutch State. VluchtelingenWerk did so because some 18,000 asylum seekers have been put up in reception centres in poor circumstances.

Going to court

According to VluchtelingenWerk (VWN), the reception centres for asylum seekers were really poor last year. Not because more people applied for asylum, but because the reception centres have been poorly organised for years. The situation does not seem to be improving either. Therefore, VWN saw no other solution than to start a lawsuit. This happened in August 2022.

After that, asylum reception centres got even worse. VWN believes that new government measures will lead to even more (crisis) emergency reception centres. VWN therefore asked the court to force the Dutch State to provide better shelter for asylum seekers. According to VWN, the reception centre should be in accordance with European and international law.

In October, the court ruled that:

  • Asylum seekers should no longer be allowed to end up on the streets of Ter Apel.

  • Unaccompanied children (under 18 years old) within 5 days from Ter Apel must be transferred to child-friendly reception centres.

  • Vulnerable people seeking asylum should no longer be placed in crisis emergency reception centres. These include children, pregnant women and refugees with trauma.

  • There must be access to clean drinking water and healthy food in all reception centres.

  • Children in (crisis) emergency reception centres must receive education within 4 weeks. They must also have things to play with within 4 weeks.

  • All people seeking asylum should be housed in regular reception centres within 9 months. Each asylum seeker should then be granted a clean reception centre with access to a shower, a sink with hot and cold water and a working toilet. They should also be given a bedroom with a ceiling, four walls, a door you can close and a window.

Good reception centres are important

Frank Candel, president of VluchtelingenWerk (VWN), calls the ruling "not yet a cause for cheer". He thinks it is sad that a court ruling is necessary. The reception centre should be well regulated by the government because he says good asylum reception centres are very important.

"We will not be happy until not one more asylum seeker has to sleep in a tent, gymnasium or event hall," he said. "A strong court ruling will not help people who are currently sleeping on the streets."

No final decision yet

The Dutch State appealed after the court ruling. This means that the State disagrees with the court ruling. Therefore, there has been another court case on the same issue. Another court will decide on the matter. 

It is not yet known what the court will decide after the appeal. You can read about it on RefugeeHelp when the court makes a decision.

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