Asylum seekers in the sports hall in Waalre have spent their first few nights there. They arrived unexpectedly on Tuesday night, so every effort was made to get everything ready. A monster job, of which the local residents were not aware.
Children kicking a ball about and parents resting after the long journey. The asylum seekers who had come from the refugee reception centre Ter Apel to Waalre were finally able to get used to their new surroundings on Thursday. And that was necessary. “I saw them arrive at night and everyone was tired and exhausted. There were children who were walking around with their noses wet and were happy that they didn’t have to sleep outside”, mayor Jan Boelhouwer explains.
Together with volunteers from the fire brigade and the Red Cross, among others, hundreds of beds were put together in no time in order to be able to offer everyone a place to sleep. “On Tuesday, we received a phone call at the end of the afternoon asking us if the shelter was ready, so we had to move quickly. We rounded up as many volunteers as possible and by 1 AM the entire shelter was ready,” says Jo van Hoef of the Safety region Brabant Zuidoost.
During an earlier tour by Studio040 in the neighbourhood, there seemed to be plenty of support for the arrival of asylum seekers and that has not changed after two nights. “They come walking by once in a while and you can see that these people don’t live here, but apart from that they don’t bother you”, says a local resident.
According to Mayor Boelhouwer, residents have been well informed, but still have their reservations. A woman who does not want to respond on camera wonders why there are families in sports hall De Pracht and not in hall ‘t Hazzo. She also says there is a nuisance at the Jumbo.
In principle, the asylum seekers stay for a fortnight, but an extra week is not excluded. “That is really the maximum. Our volunteers and security guards also know that the reception centre is really closed after three weeks. That is what we agreed on together”, explains Boelhouwer.