Still waters run deep. Jetta Klijnsma has an important task in the reception of asylum seekers | Column Hilbrand Polman

Commissioner Jetta Klijnsma does not like to come to the fore. While her predecessor Jacques Tichelaar sometimes made strong statements about, for example, the plan for a shopping center at the TT Circuit, Klijnsma likes to leave the substantive discussions to her deputies.

However, still waters run deep. The current Commissioner from Drenthe plays an important role in one of the many headaches of Dutch politics: the reception of asylum seekers. Both nationally and in Drenthe, she chairs the administrative council on the question of where on earth all those refugees should stay. Every now and then a report is published in official language. ‘In the field of education and (basic) care, the limit has been reached in a number of municipalities with regard to what municipalities and organizations can achieve in this’, was a sentence at the end of the latest report.

When asked, it became clear what Klijnsma meant by this: thanks to the efforts of retired teachers and nurses, asylum seekers’ children still receive lessons, and their often traumatized parents get the care they need. It’s nice that people are selflessly committed to helping their fellow human beings in need, but it can no longer be maintained like this, was the message.

Asylum seekers need more than a roof over their heads, she also stated. But how badly that accommodation is arranged was shown this week by a report in this newspaper about the emergency shelter in Expo Assen, the hall at the TT Circuit. A lot of noise, quarrels about the stupidest things, no privacy, little prospect of a somewhat normal existence in the Netherlands, is the short summary.

“A powder keg that could explode at any moment,” said one of the residents. Jetta Klijnsma is trying to remove the fuse from that powder keg by lobbying various ministers and state secretaries to take measures that can ease the suffering.

So these are all conversations that take place in the background. But wouldn’t it be good if Klijnsma spoke out more publicly about this? The influx of asylum seekers is a peat fire in Dutch society. We must realize that in the refugee camps in Lebanon and Turkey the situation is much worse than here. But it is also true that it is no longer possible to receive refugees properly in the Netherlands and certainly not to properly integrate the people who are allowed to stay here into our society.

That is why it is also in the interest of the latter group to realize that things cannot go on like this and to talk about solutions in public.