The Zaanstreek-Waterland security region has quickly begun to come up with various scenarios if a large group of asylum seekers from the emergency crisis shelter in Purmerend go on a mass hunger strike next week. With this, the refugees demand progress in their asylum procedure. According to them, not an inch has been advanced in the last nine months.

This is reported by Noord-Hollands Dagblad. The security region was not available today to confirm the message. A spokesman tells the regional newspaper that together with the location managers and a basic doctor, they are analyzing what is needed in the event of a hunger strike. “That is primarily a concern, but it is broader than that. At the moment I can not go into more detail about it. There is no ready plan yet, because we have no experience with such a scenario.”

Since this week, dozens of refugees have taken to the streets every day to demand the attention of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND). In self-made protest posters, they underscore their desperation and hopelessness of waiting months in the austere environment of a crisis shelter, where they would initially only stay for ‘a short time’. Nothing came of that government promise.

“There is food and shelter here, but nothing else,” says Yasser AlMousa, 20, the group’s English-speaking spokesman. “We are grateful for the help, but we want to get on with our lives. This is not a place to live that long.” AlMousa claims that they will all go on hunger strike on Tuesday, if nothing changes.

headache file

Purmerend is not the only place where asylum seekers protest against the conditions in which they are received. In Zuidbroek, Groningen, the police had to act this week because there was a lot of unrest there after the seizure of a stove that the refugees wanted to use. Earlier, a group of about fifty asylum seekers protested in Zuidbroek against the conditions in the sports center where they are being received. They say there is a nuisance of mice. There would also be dirty and insufficient sanitary facilities and asylum seekers would not receive enough food and drink.

The question is how quickly the objections of asylum seekers can be removed. Receiving asylum has been a headache in the Netherlands for some time. There is now a distribution law before the House of Representatives, according to which municipalities may be obliged to receive asylum seekers on a pro-rata basis. Currently, it is mainly the municipalities in the north and east of the country that open reception sites, while the municipalities in the west fail more frequently.

The ship Silja Europa is moored at the VOB quay in Velsen.
The ship Silja Europa is moored at the VOB quay in Velsen. © ANP / ANP

However, this will not help State Secretary Van der Burg (Asylum, VVD) this spring and summer. One year after asylum seekers were forced to sleep rough in Ter Apel, another miserable summer of asylum threatens. Until both chambers have passed the law, one hole is filled with another. For example, the large asylum ship Silja Europa (1,000 berths) in Velsen is due to leave Velsen this spring, the local council decided this week. The municipality of Amsterdam, which already hosts a large ship, was asked to welcome this ship as well, but refused to do so.

Capacity issues remain very acute. 220 asylum seekers can stay in Velsen on a smaller boat, the COA will have to distribute the rest throughout the Netherlands. You can then go to a sports park in Nijmegen. Six large pavilion tents should be there by mid-April, sleeping 1,200 asylum seekers. The hostel will remain open until November 1st. At the same time, another smaller emergency shelter in Nijmegen (200 places) will be closed again.

Watch our news videos in the playlist below: