Emotions prevailed when Albergen residents spoke with Foreign Minister Eric van der Burg (Asylum and Migration) on Tuesday evening about the soon-to-be asylum seeker center in the village of Twente. The private council meeting revealed that they fear for their safety. “So why can’t you walk safely down the street?” he responded to the disturbances.
Last week, it became clear that the Cabinet had ordered the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) to purchase a hotel in Albergen. Two hundred asylum seekers should be accommodated there in the short term.
After several protests last week, sentiments also escalated during the council meeting which was attended by a large number of people. Van der Burgh’s interpretation was sometimes met with cheers from the audience.
Several people who gave the floor during the meeting expressed concern about safety in Albergen, which has a population of more than three thousand. The safety of women and children is mentioned. Someone also said that her 87-year-old mother-in-law no longer dared walk the dog in the park.
Van der Burg replied, “Why can’t you walk safely down the street if there is an asylum center? That works just fine in most places.” “Yes, there is a group that misbehaves, just like a group of native Dutch people. Not all asylum seekers are thieves and thieves. It seems to me that nothing has been stolen in Albergen.”
When the Secretary of State said that Alburger Girls could also be harassed by residents of their community, it caused an uproar in the hall.
Van der Burg does not want to “negotiate”
Van der Burg confirmed that he did not come to “negotiate” in Tübergen on Tuesday evening. However, he expressed the hope that he would soon enter into discussions with the Executive Board on how to further clarify the access of the asylum seekers’ center. When the Secretary of State said he had not yet looked at the site, there was laughter from the hall.
The paperwork is expected to be completed within five weeks and the first asylum seekers can be received in Albergen. Two hundred people can stay in the building. In the first place, these are only status holders.
If the units are also located abroad at the site of the center for future asylum seekers, there will be room for a total of three hundred asylum seekers. Van der Burg said the procedure to achieve this is taking longer.
Van der Burgh was greeted with applause when he said that the current refugee crisis is due to “politics and not the fault of the citizens”. After the influx of thousands of Syrians in 2015, centers for asylum seekers closed very quickly. “We could have done it a lot better,” van der Burg said. “As a politician, we didn’t do it well.”
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