Residents of a reception centre usually live with 5 to 8 people in one unit. Each unit has several bedrooms and a shared living room, kitchen and sanitary facilities. At the time of writing, there are no reports of serious deficiencies in the sanitary facilities that are provided in the reception centres. Residents are responsible for keeping their habitat in order. Unaccompanied children live in small-scale shelters, which are specialised in the reception of unaccompanied children. They are intensively monitored to increase their safety (see section on Special Reception Needs).
Adults can attend programmes and counselling meetings, tailored to the type and stage of the asylum procedure in which they are in. Next to this, it is possible for asylum seekers to work on maintenance of the centre, cleaning of common areas, etc. and earn a small fee of up to €14 per week doing this. It is also possible for children as well as adults to participate in courses or sports at the local sports club. Children of school age are obliged to attend school. To practice with teaching materials and to keep in touch with family and friends, asylum seekers can visit the Open Education Centre (Open Leercentrum) which is equipped with computers with internet access. Children can do their homework here. There is supervision by other asylum seekers and Dutch volunteers.
AZC are so-called open centres. This entails that asylum seekers are free to go outside if they please. However, there is a weekly duty to report (meldplicht) in order for the COA to determine whether the asylum seeker still resides in the facility and whether he or she is still entitled to the facilities. Some reception centres such as EBTL, now replaced as HTL, as well as centres for rejected asylum seekers, have a stricter regime. There have previously been some incidents and issues with asylum seekers. Other incidents are related to Dutch citizens protesting the establishment of a reception centre in their city.
Since 2016, there have been issues in reception centres with asylum seekers originating from safe countries of origin. In response, the State Secretary decided to take several measures amongst which the decision to limit their right to reception. By the end of 2017, two EBTL have been opened for asylum seekers causing nuisance. In 2019 the State Secretary decided to close these reception centres and announced to open an Enforcement and Supervision Location (HTL) for asylum seekers causing nuisance and she is investigating the possibility of separate reception locations and conditions for applications originating from safe countries and Dublin-claimants.
Article 18(1) and (3) RVA.
Article 19(1)(e) RVA.
State Secretary, Letter No 19637/2268, 13 December 2016.
Secretary of State, Letter KST19637 2572, 18 December 2019.