‘COA is on the verge of collapse, above average absentee’

The Central Body for Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) is about to collapse, reports NRC on the basis of its own research. In Ter Apel, where the largest asylum seekers center in the country is located, almost one in three employees has dropped out, the COA confirms to the newspaper.

At other locations of the reception organization, many people also drop out above average. Throughout the Netherlands, according to NRC, absenteeism is 9 percent, almost twice as high as the national absenteeism average.

Furthermore, the COA is facing a significant staff shortage. More than a thousand vacancies must be filled before the end of the year, on top of the more than 4,000 people who already work for the COA.

“Under the Human Measure”

A spokesperson confirms to the newspaper that the COA raised the alarm to the Secretary of State almost a year ago. The letter from the COA summit would have read that the shelter “threatened to fall below the human dimension”, “for both residents and employees”.

In recent weeks, hundreds of asylum seekers slept outside the application center for asylum seekers in Ter Apel, partly due to a shortage of beds. When 250 to 300 asylum seekers had to sleep outside one night earlier this month, the COA spoke of the highest number in years. VluchtelingenWerk Nederland called it a “sad low”.

The reception organization now acknowledges to the newspaper that it is no longer possible to meet the legal task, namely to receive asylum seekers “in a humanitarian way”. Due to working under high pressure and the long working days, the COA no longer sees a solution to the situation.

The COA is now hosting 43,000 people and there must be 51,000 shelters by the end of the year. These are not for Ukrainian refugees, as they are taken care of by municipalities. For Ukrainians, there are still around 4,000 shelters, also because municipalities do not want to receive refugees from other countries.

The newspaper also cites the large backlogs at immigration service IND as a cause of the problems. As a result, asylum seekers stay in asylum centers for months and sometimes years longer. Also, they often cannot leave if their asylum request is granted, partly because municipalities make fewer houses available than agreed.

In this video, CCEit on 3 explains how the problems in asylum reception arose: