“If we had not taken care of them urgently, they would have had to sleep on chairs in Ter Apel. You really don’t want that.” That is what mayor Jan Boelhouwer van Waalre says about the accelerated reception of 164 asylum seekers. They arrived in the night from Tuesday to Wednesday.

    A moment of stress caused the request from Ter Apel to temporarily take over 164 asylum seekers a day earlier than planned. Actually, their arrival in Waalre was only planned for Wednesday. But people in Ter Apel couldn’t wait that long, says Boelhouwer. It has been far too busy at the national application center for refugees for a long time.

    Sleeping on chairs
    “There are different things going through your mind. You don’t want them sleeping on chairs. But you also have to ensure that everything has to be ready here, such as security and informing the neighborhood. But the beds were also not finished yet,” says the mayor.

    And so dozens of volunteers, the fire brigade and municipal officials put their shoulders under the acute job in sports hall De Pracht and ‘t Hazzo. The IKEA beds were even still in packaging, so they had to be completely assembled. So man and power was tinkered with until late in the evening, in order to be able to offer the 164 asylum seekers a bed in time.

    Dead tired
    “They arrived here at ten past twelve last night. Dead tired they got off a bus, I noticed that. The hollow look in their eyes: ‘Where the hell am I going to end up?’ They have no idea,” says Boelhouwer.

    In total, the municipality of Waalre receives 225 asylum seekers for a maximum of three weeks. Then they go in buses to another place, where they also stay for a short time. Boelhouwer calls it “dragging with people”. He would rather have seen it differently. “That will take until October. We don’t want that, but we can’t offer a sustainable solution right now. There is a housing shortage throughout the Netherlands, which I cannot solve locally.”

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