COA wants to extend shelter for asylum seekers on TU Delft campus

The COA wants to extend and prolong the shelter for asylum seekers at the TU Delft campus. The Municipality is prepared to look into this and has already approached TU Delft.

The Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers hopes to keep the reception centre at TU Delft campus open for five extra years and almost double its size. (Photo: Marjolein van der Veldt)

This is stated in a letter (in Dutch) from the Mayor and Aldermen to the Municipal Council. The plan was to provide shelter for asylum seekers on the TU Delft campus for five months, until 3 February 2023. The COA (the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers) wants to add another five years and extend the space from 220 to 420 spaces.

In their letter, the Mayor and Aldermen stress that there is a large shortfall in shelter for asylum seekers and that the ‘situation is dire’. ‘It will not come as a surprise that COA is currently putting all its efforts into finding extra capacity.’ The Mayor and Aldermen say that they will ‘assess if, and to what extent, the request of the COA is doable’.

Around the time of the opening of the current shelter in September, a Municipality spokesperson stated that an extension to the five month term was “in principle not an option”, though the door was kept ajar. “If the COA issues an appeal to Delft again, the Mayor and Municipal Executive will review the request.”

Conditions and wishes
As the owner of the ground, TU Delft in instrumental in the evaluation. It was asked for ‘input’ on ‘possibilities, conditions and wishes’. TU Delft confirms this, but does not clarify any details. ‘At present, TU Delft is carefully examining the different interests and considerations so that it can give its answer to the Municipality. This takes time and means that we cannot make any further announcements now’, emails a spokesperson.

In May, Rector and Chair of TU Delft’s Executive Board Tim van der Hagen said that he was happy “to help in this urgent societal issue”. “We are pleased to make our land available.” The question now is whether this would also apply to a much longer period – five years on top of the current five months.

The Executive Board of Mayor and Aldermen needs to take a decision before 3 February. To meet this deadline, the Municipal Council needs to state its wishes and concerns at a committee meeting. If necessary, it can be postponed by one week to the Municipal Council meeting.

If the Executive Board agrees, a new Board meeting needs to be arranged to make agreements over the composition of the residents, education provision, daytime activities, and the design of the reception centre. This last point is primarily needed so that ‘unaccompanied minor foreign nationals’ can be separated from the others.

At the moment, 50 unaccompanied minor foreign nationals and 170 regular asylum seekers can be housed. The shelter is located at the southern part of the campus, next to the building of the software company Exact.

Editor in chief Saskia Bonger

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