60,000 migrants and refugees housed in former Dutch prisons

 Dawlat Derbas, 34, from Aleppo, Syria, in the garden of De Koepel. Dawlat Derbas, 34, from Aleppo, Syria, in the garden of De Koepel. © Dmitry Kostyukov for The New York Times

17 May 2016
Falling crime rates and rising migrant numbers have allowed former prisons to be converted to shelters.

Over the last few years, the Netherlands has been experiencing falling crime rates and the  closure of detention facilities. When over 58,000 migrants and asylum seekers poured into the country last year, finding solutions to housing was difficult.  While converting empty office spaces and tent camps were considered options, repurposing the vacant facilities was considered part of an emergency response.

While waiting for their asylum status to be determined, refugees live in the facilities and have freedom of movement.  While not an ideal solution, the former prisons do have some amenities that make them better than converted office spaces and tent camps.  Most have some outdoor spaces and sports courts, as well as gyms and kitchens.

Some criticism comes from concerns about potential psychological impacts of having to live in a prison.  Many individuals interviewed by the Associated Press chief photographer stated that they are glad to have a roof and feel safe. They are more concerned with the length of the asylum process than the current housing situation.


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