What is the composition of residents in emergency shelters and what is their perspective?

COA is responsible for an equal distribution of men, women and families in all reception locations in the Netherlands. Most people come from Syria and Afghanistan. It has been agreed that at least 50% of the emergency shelter will be status holders (people with a residence permit) and the rest will be promising asylum seekers (people still waiting for a residence permit). Most residents have been living in the Netherlands for some time. The prospect is that they will stay in the Netherlands. The people with a status are waiting for regular housing, but due to tightness in the housing market, they are still staying in the shelter.

There will be no unaccompanied minor refugees in the emergency shelter in Zoetermeer.

How do the new residents in the emergency shelter live together?

It is a large location with space for up to 660 people. It has been agreed with COA that they can accommodate a maximum of 630 people. So there is enough space available for these people. COA determines the layout at the reception location. Most people will share a bedroom with someone else. Families are kept together.

Emergency shelter residents can cook for themselves at the location. They receive living allowance for belongings and groceries. There are also opportunities for recreation and sports (sports hall and sports fields) and people attend school, work or integration classes.

COA is responsible for the liveability and safety in the location. They do this by providing information, drawing up living rules and taking measures in the event of unpleasant events. During the day there is staff for all kinds of guidance and there is also security at all times.

What do residents in emergency shelters do during the day?

Like all other residents of Zoetermeer, people in the reception locations go to work (status holders) and to school. In addition, there are activities for relaxation. People can decide for themselves whether to participate. COA provides information on all kinds of topics surrounding living and life in the Netherlands (integration). Part of this is learning the Dutch language.

There are clear house rules, but people are free to go wherever they want.

How is education going for children in emergency shelters?

Like all children in the Netherlands, children of asylum seekers are subject to compulsory education. 

All children of compulsory school age attend a school in Zoetermeer.

What does COA do?

COA takes care of the reception of refugees in the Netherlands. For more information, visit the COA website(external link).

What about medical care for shelter residents?

Medical care is arranged at the site through a doctor's consultation hour. Help is also available for people with psychological complaints. Employees of the Zoetermeer Refugee Council provide support at the reception site.