The Dutch Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) is set to close around 15 emergency refugee reception centers in the country due to a falling number of arrivals, COA Director Gerard Bakker said Thursday.
The agency is ending its search for new emergency shelter locations to manage the refugee influx that engulfed Europe in 2015 and is shifting operations to existing regular asylum seeker centers, Bakker said in an interview with De Telegraaf newspaper.
The COA is also set to shed its temporary staff hired to deal with the influx and is freezing plans to build new reception centers, he added, noting that the rapidly fluctuating migrant numbers call for a flexible approach.
The number of first-time asylum applicants in the Netherlands fell from a record 10,120 in October to less than 2,000 in early 2016 and reached 1,135 in May, according to EU statistics agency Eurostat.
The European Union has been struggling to manage a massive refugee crisis, with hundreds of thousands of people leaving conflict-torn countries in the Middle East and North Africa to escape violence and poverty and seeking asylum in Europe. The EU border agency Frontex detected over 1.83 million illegal border crossings in 2015, in contrast to some 283,000 in 2014.