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Alkmaar

Migrants refuse to clean their own toilets in Dutch shelter

Eight very angry, unwashed migrants in jogging pants gathered in the shared kitchen of the asylum seekers' center in Alkmaar, the Netherlands to complain about having to clean toilets, a Dutch daily reported.

Published: April 26, 2018, 9:59 am

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    A few weeks ago they learned that their only access to the shower and toilets was an electronic key available at the reception for a refundable twenty euros. The doors of the toilets on their floor are currently equipped with magnets, according to the Volkskrant.

    The idea behind this, says spokesperson Alet Bouwmeester of the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA), is that only residents of the floor can make use of the toilet areas intended for them.

    Nowadays it happens too often that people start strolling through the building, looking for free showers and toilets. In the context of “self-employment”, they now also have to clean the toilet areas themselves.

    Previously, this task had been outsourced to a professional cleaning company, which went through the building to do the task.

    “The leadership wants us to scrub the toilets on our knees,” one migrant called Ahmad complained. “And then we are also forced to pay for a key.” Even though his money is returned when he returns the key, Ahmad is furious. “It is about the principle.” His lower lip vibrates with indignation. “They say I have to relax. But how can I relax if I can not even shit without a key?”

    The other residents join in the chorus of denouncing the Netherlands: “I’m in shock,” says Abu Barak, a migrant man from Syria. “Is this the Netherlands?”

    Another one says: “Even the prisons in Syria are better!” A woman with a headscarf enters with a toddler on her arm. She too is angry. “I have two children,” says Waed. “They regularly go to the toilet. If they have to, they must be quick. But how is that possible if I have to use a key every time? ”

    For the time being, the management has only closed the toilet areas of the wing on the first floor. Some 23 asylum seekers live here, including seven children. Most come from Syria and Iraq, and a few from Eritrea. Soon the toilets on the other floors will also be locked.

    The measure will not be long-term, because in September, the shelter will be closed at Robonsbosweg, for a total of five hundred inhabitants.

    The management decided to introduce a new cleaning system at the last moment, according to spokesman Bouwmeester, because of extremely poor hygiene in the toilets. By making residents responsible for cleaning up their own mess, this would improve, they thought. “If you go to the toilet, you leave it clean. That is part of our information.”

    When Ahmad opens the door of a toilet on a different floor, a terrible penetrating smell hits one. The walls are covered in feces. There is no toilet paper. The latter is a “cultural thing”: residents do not clean their precious parts after a toilet visit with toilet paper, but with water, but western toilets are not built for this.

    “Residents therefore take along plant sprayers and watering cans to wash themselves afterwards,” says Ahmad. ‘The water, with residue and all, spreads all over the space.”

    Asylum seekers are summoned to “keep the floor dry” with posters explaining how to use the toilet. An image shows the correct way of toileting: sitting, and therefore not in a squat position with both feet up.

    After the tour of the terrible state of the toilets, the angry residents lie down on benches in the lobby, where the receptionist gets the order to call management so that they can complain.

    In the meantime, Ahmad has a heated conversation with a Dutch employee from the municipality of Alkmaar: “This is a dictatorial decision!” he screams, and when he hangs up the phone, he sighs deeply. “We are still protesting in a civilized way.” What if this does not change anything? He shrugs, suggesting that violence may be an option too.

    PVV leader Geert Wilders had little sympathy for the asylum seekers who refuse to clean their own toilets. He tweeted in harsh language: “Go to hell asylum profiteers!”

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