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On 6 May, regional broadcaster Omroep Brabant published an article on the situation in the village of Overloon. Overloon, part of the municipality of Boxmeer, has been plagued by a long string of disturbances, mostly related to the local asylum center.

There was an outbreak of TB amongst its residents in 2014. This was followed by a fracas between dozens of youths housed there, who used iron bars, sticks and knives to lightly injure 15 of their peers. In May 2016, police had to fire a warning shot when residents tried to prevent them from detaining one of them, after he had gone beserk.

In December 2017, there was a “massive fight“, with residents again using bats and knives. One person was hospitalised, several wounded, seven arrested. The unrest persisted. Another ‘incident’ a year later made it into the national press: twenty residents used sticks and knives and threw tiles in another “massive fight”. Again one of them was hospitalised. Six arrests were made. In 2018, a resident was sentenced to 15 months in jail for mutilating another resident with a knive the year before, lacerating his face from the mouth to the ear. A 15 centimeter cut.

As the article in the Algemeen Dagblad mentions, almost in passing, the ‘rascals’ responsible are mostly “unaccompanied young men from countries like Morocco and Algeria, who have no chance of attaining residential status.” According to local political leader Judith Logtens, when her party complained to the center’s management, it was implied that they were a bunch of fascists for doing so.

When asked for a response, spokesperson for the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) Robert Ploeg reluctantly commented:

“Sometimes they chose to fight amongst themselves.”

Robert Ploeg

One can almost imagine him adjusting his pince-nez, and shuddering at the thought of such barbarism after saying it.

Apart from these outbreaks of violence which apparently cannot be controlled, local inhabitants have been confronted with almost continuous break ins. Even though police make arrests, it seems almost every day things get stolen in roughly the same area.

Now inhabitants of Overloon have allegedly received a letter from the municipality and the police, about the arrival of more ‘asylum seekers’. In preparation, inhabitants were urged to

“build a tall fence, install surveillance camera’s and buy a good dog.”

Omroep Brabant

The asylum center now houses about 600 people. Of them, only “a small group of young men” cause trouble, according to Robert Ploeg, who seems at a loss to account for this as:

“when they arrive in the center, we point out the rules and [tell them that] in the Netherlands burglary, for example, is forbidden.”

Robert Ploeg

This does not seem to help, however, as confirmed by the police. One would think it is up to Robert Ploeg and the COA to get a grip on this “small group“, not for inhabitants to fortify their homes, but alas. When inhabitants speak about what is happening to them, they even feel they have do so anonymously. With good reason. A woman explains:

“One time there was someone in my bedroom, things were broken. But most importantly, my feeling of safety was taken away.”

In a letter to the municipality the inhabitants of Overloon now complain that they feel ‘powerless’. People arrested are let go quickly. A curfew for the residents of the asylum center apparently is not an option, but

“our children don’t dare stay at home alone at night, or go for a ride on their bikes.”

 

The inhabitants feel they are used as bait, so files can be prepared on the migrants so they can be sent to a secured asylum center. Not deported, mind you, but stored somewhere ‘secure’.

Mayor Karel van Soest claims to support the inhabitants, and that the municipality has asked national authorities to take an interest. Though he recognises preparing files is important, he claims he’d rather deport the trouble makes, but that this is impossible because of the law. All in all, it seems that the people of Overloon are paying a heavy price for bad laws.