Europe

Migrant crisis: Dutch town riots over asylum centre plan

  • 17 December 2015
  • From the section Europe
Riot police look on at a protest in the Dutch down of Geldermalsen Image copyright EPA
Image caption Some of the protesters tore down fences

A meeting in a Dutch town to discuss whether to build a new centre for migrants had to be abandoned when some opponents rioted.

Protesters in Geldermalsen tore down fences and threw fireworks at police who responded with warning shots.

European countries are facing record numbers of refugees and other migrants entering Greece illegally from Turkey.

Dutch State Secretary for Security and Justice Klaas Dijkhoff said the protesters had crossed a line.

"Finding shelter for asylum seekers poses difficult questions but there is a limit when it comes to expressing your opinion," he said on Dutch TV.

"The line is crossed when you barge in yelling and rioting. That's not appropriate in a discussion and, thankfully, we have seen that it went much quieter in other places and a solution was found. This is not ok."

The migration crisis is expected to dominate a meeting of EU leaders on Thursday.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Some 2,000 people took part in the protests
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Police made a number of arrests

Sad 'through and through'

Local mayor Miranda de Vries said no-one in the meeting hall had been injured but tweeted she was sad "through and through".

The meeting in Geldermalsen was to discuss establishing a centre for 1,500 asylum seekers.

About 2,000 people joined the protests from the municipality of 27,000, 27 km (17 miles) from Utrecht, Dutch national broadcaster NOS reports.

Local police say they made several arrests.

Along with Germany and Sweden, the Netherlands is one of the most popular destinations for migrants in the wealthier north of the EU.

Including this year's arrivals, the government said last month it expected to receive 58,000 asylum seekers by the end of 2016.

Former prisons, empty government offices and sports halls are being hastily modified to accommodate the surge in numbers.