The State Secretary says there are limits to what you can expect from people. Although he also calls initiatives to receive Ukrainians at home ‘valuable’. According to Van der Burg, it is now up to municipalities and security regions to arrange reception places. It is not possible to rely on the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA), he emphasizes. “COA can help with expertise, but not with work, because COA does not like that.”
According to the State Secretary, it is possible that not every municipality can provide the same reception, which is why the request for 2000 places is addressed to the 25 security regions. “Any region can take that 1000 plus 1000.” The liberal does not have a maximum in his head after that assignment. “We can’t say go back. So we’ll have to work. I don’t have a final number.”
In the longer term, the VVD minister wants to better distribute reception across the country. He wants registration centers in ‘north, south, west, east’, while there is now only one in Ter Apel. “So that you can spread the pressure across the Netherlands.”
The House of Representatives is unanimous that everything must be done to provide shelter for Ukrainians on the run, although the parties still differ on the way in which this should be done. “But the speed with which reception is arranged is impressive,” says SP MP Van Dijk.
MPs from left to right ask State Secretary Van der Burg (Asylum) to be well prepared for the arrival of many refugees, not just in the short term. D66 MP Podt praises that about 50,000 reception places are now being arranged in crisis mode. “But they can also stay for a longer period of time and we have to prepare for that, for example by teaching them the language and integrating them.”
PvdA MP Piri calls on the cabinet to be honest about the consequences, because it will be an enormous task. “We have to be honest about the consequences and we have to be ready for that. Ukrainians will come to every school in the Netherlands.” CDA member Kuik warns that Ukrainian refugees in the Netherlands must be prevented from falling prey to exploitation.
Housing in the longer term should also be considered, says VVD MP Brekelmans. The liberal asks whether there is already a structural solution, because the 50,000 reception places are now mainly focused on emergency shelter, for example in hotels or empty buildings where emergency beds are placed. He thinks that flexible forms of living may offer a solution.
Nevertheless, the House also points out how many refugees the Netherlands can carry. “The Netherlands will have to take its responsibility realistically and manageably,” says JA21 leader Eerdmans. “What if municipalities reach their tax? Where is that limit?” Eerdmans therefore wants more to be done to facilitate reception in Ukraine’s neighboring countries.
Various parties are also seizing the moment to highlight shortcomings in the asylum system. For example, D66 member Podt is cracking down on the way in which the promised ‘flexible reception shell’ has been worked on, which should be used to absorb a higher influx. According to her, this has not been achieved enough. That was also acknowledged by the then State Secretary Broekers in December.
Some parties also consider this the ideal moment to deport migrants with unsuccessful asylum applications. “I hope that this State Secretary will keep out fortune seekers in the next four years,” says PVV MP Markuszower. VVD member Brekelmans argues for a ‘return offensive’, although his plea could mainly count on scorn. This is partly because his party has been providing the minister who can achieve this for more than ten years.
Think MP Kuzu especially praises the unanimity of parties to receive Ukrainians. “It deserves a big thumbs up. Even the PVV voted in favor of a motion by Denk to allow Ukrainian citizens to stay longer. That gives hope.”