Living at an asylum seekers' centre

Residents of the asylum seekers' centres usually live with 5 to 8 people in housing units. Each housing unit has a number of bedrooms and a shared living room, kitchen and sanitary facilities. Residents are responsible for keeping their living environment in order. In a reception centre the residents take care of themselves as much as possible.

In average, there are about 40 different nationalities in an asylum seekers' centre.

Asylum seekers receive weekly living allowance for food and clothing. The level of the living allowance depends on the family composition and the income of the residents if they have any. For a family with two children under the age of 18 who provide their own meals, the weekly allowance on 1 January 2018 is € 167.30.

Residents with their own income or capital are to contribute to the costs of the shelter. The COA gives a one-off allowance for household items and, if necessary, provides incidental allowances for, for example, travel expenses or baby articles.

The COA finds it important that the residents can do activities that are meaningful for them. We encourage residents to be busy with their future from day 1: integration and participation in the Netherlands or return to the country of origin. By participating in activities at and outside the location, residents can gain knowledge, skills and experience and build up a network.

We think it is important that the asylum seekers 'strike roots' as quickly as possible and can find their own way in the Dutch society. Our guidance is therefore aimed at strengthening the competences they need to shape their lives at the reception centre and in the future. This way we increase their self-reliance and independence.

The medical care provided to the residents of an asylum seekers' centre is as close as possible to the regular care in the Netherlands. Like everyone else, the asylum seekers can go to a general practitioner, midwife or hospital. COA employees inform asylum seekers about how the healthcare is organised in the Netherlands. When asylum seekers arrive at the reception centre, they receive information about medical care at the reception centre, about the medical call centre and when they need to call 112.

Physical and social safety determines to a large extent the quality of life in a reception centre. Insuring a safe environment is therefore a high priority for the COA employees.

About a quarter of our residents are younger than 18 years. They live with a family or alone (unaccompanied minors) in reception centres. Children are far from home and do not yet speak the language when they arrive in the Netherlands. They miss their friends, family, grandfathers and grandmothers. They are uncertain about their future and have often been through a lot. But the children must also be able to be a real child.