Is the Netherlands too soft on squatting asylum seekers? That’s A BIG question. Also, a question that is being asked more frequently in order to determine the definite answer. The thing is, there isn’t really a straight forward answer to this question and if any one of us were to answer it, we would be here debating for days. However, we’re trying to stir up a bit of a discussion on your end too.
*When referring to asylum seekers, we are talking about asylum seekers who’s asylum status has finished and they are due to return. But let’s not get into symantics for this one
We Are Here (Squatting in your house) – In the news
Only last week, ‘We Are Here’ asylum seekers squatted in 12 Ymere buildings in Amsterdam. Due to squatters rights, they have 8 weeks to leave, as it was not possible to give an immediate eviction. Many people in the neighborhood were not happy about this.
Then, Monday of this week, ‘We Are Here’ asylum seekers in Amsterdam tried and then failed to squat in 2 more Ymere housing association buildings. A verbal fight broke out between the We Are Here asylum seekers and 2 Ymere employees, as they were placing locks on the 2 homes. According to the Ymere employees, the leases for the houses were signed and the new tenants were due to move in at any minute. Police attended, but did not intervene.
The asylum seekers caught them out, by saying that they had already been squatting in the homes. This explains why the fight most likely broke out – because they were already squatting. There was no grounds for this though, and the Public Prosecution service decided that the houses were in fact Ymere’s. As we know, squatters get a lot of rights in the Netherlands and this has caused quite a stir around the country (Amsterdam especially).
So, what’s the problem?
Let’s look at both sides of this. One from the point of view the housing corporations and homeowners and the other from the squatters themselves.
Firstly, there’s a fine line between people squatting in homes and people squatting in houses. There is a big difference! If houses are generally being taken that are going to be filled promptly, then this is a problem if people are going to be squatting in it – whether it’s needed or not. This is never okay and causes all sorts of problems. You can see from that aspect why some people may get angry. Especially if this means that another person in need of a home is going to be waiting even longer as they are trying to get squatters out. And especially somewhere like Amsterdam where there is a massive housing shortage. After all, their asylum status is over and “in theory” they can return.
The other side?
However, it’s not as easy as that. On the other side of the fence, the asylum seekers are in need. If they had a home, they wouldn’t have to squat. Returning to the home country may not be as easy as jumping on a plane and leaving. Some are without legal paperwork and if the country is unwilling to provide them, then they are stuck somewhere in the middle. Money to return could also be a big issue. Just because a country is safe to return to, it doesn’t mean that it’s easy to return and live there again. Also, if a building is going to be left for years empty, is it not fair to allow someone to stay there?
Ah boy, it’s a complicated topic and something we could probably write about for days on end. However, it’s causing quite a stir and it’s important to discuss it.
So now it’s your turn. What’s your take on this? Let us know in the comments!