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Last updated: 10/12/2022, 11:56 AM

Published at: 10/6/2022, 3:11 PM

Verdict: shelter for asylum seekers must be more humane

Asylum reception must be more humane. That was decided in court today after VluchtelingenWerk Nederland filed a lawsuit against the state and the Central Organ for Asylum Reception (COA). VluchtelingenWerk did this because about 18,000 asylum seekers have been sheltered in poor conditions.

Please note: this article is about people seeking asylum. Not about refugees under Temporary Protection.

Asylum reception has been inadequate for a year, says VluchtelingenWerk. Not because of a sudden increase in asylum applications, but because of years of poor policy. The making of agreements on asylum reception between the state and municipalities doesn't go well. This doesn't seem to be improving either. That is why VluchtelingenWerk saw no other option than to go to court.

After that, asylum reception only got worse. Next to that, VluchtelingenWerk anticipates that new measures from the government will actually lead to even more (crisis) emergency reception. Therefore, the organization has asked the court to oblige the State to ensure that asylum seekers are sheltered according to European and international law.

Among other things, the judge ruled today that:

  • As of today, asylum seekers may no longer end up on the streets of Ter Apel;

  • Unaccompanied minors must be transferred within five days from Ter Apel to appropriate shelters;

  • Vulnerable asylum seekers (children, pregnant women and traumatized asylum seekers) will not be permitted to be sheltered in crisis emergency shelters as of today;

  • There should be access to clean drinking water and decent meals in all shelters;

  • Children in (crisis) emergency shelters should have access to education and play facilities within four weeks;

  • All asylum seekers and refugees must be housed in reception locations that meet the minimum legal requirements again within nine months. This means, among other things, that every asylum seeker must have access to a clean shelter with access to a shower, a basin with hot and cold water, and a working toilet. Reception sites must have a bedroom with a ceiling, four walls, a door you can lock, and a window.

'Firm statement'

Frank Candel, chairman of VluchtelingenWerk Nederland, calls the ruling 'no reason for joy yet'. He finds it sorrowful that something as essential as humane asylum reception requires a court ruling.

"We will not be happy until no asylum seekers have to sleep in a tent, gymnasium, or event hall anymore," he says. "A firm court ruling will not help them now."

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