The Netherlands still does not have asylum reception in order. In his constant search for beds for asylum seekers, State Secretary Eric van der Burg encounters a new problem: the badger.
An emergency reception location with eight hundred places would be built in the municipality of Heumen. But on the spot where tents and living units are to be erected, there is also a badger sett. The badger is a protected species. “So housing three badgers means that we cannot accommodate eight hundred people there,” said Van der Burg during Question Time in the House of Representatives. In reality, there are three badgers’ burrows.
The COA, responsible for the reception of asylum seekers, will apply for an exemption from the province so that construction can continue. “If that is possible for train passengers, it seems to me that it is also possible when it comes to the reception of eight hundred people,” said Van der Burg after Question Time.
With this, the VVD member refers to Friesland and North Brabant, where badgers stopped train traffic because they had dug too close to railway lines. An exemption was granted, after which the castles were excavated. The province of Gelderland has announced that nature research is needed before a decision can be made about an exemption. The application for this has not yet been received.
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The cruise ship that offers shelter to a thousand people in Velsen, but has to leave this week, has also not been ‘lost elsewhere’ by the minister. “It’s not going well,” says Van der Burg. “We have to prevent people from sleeping outside somewhere in the Netherlands.” On Friday, Prime Minister Mark Rutte did not rule out the possibility that people will have to sleep in the grass again this year, which happened regularly at the application center in Ter Apel last year.
This year, the influx of asylum seekers could be much higher than last year. The latest forecasts are expected to appear on Friday, but were leaked last week via NOS. This would show that the cabinet is taking into account a maximum of 76,000 asylum seekers this year, considerably more than the 59,000 people Van der Burg previously assumed.
Van der Burg does not want to confirm those figures yet. He did say after Question Time that the latest forecasts also take into account the large increase in asylum seekers reaching Italy via the Mediterranean. In the first months of this year, 300 percent more people arrived there than in 2022.
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