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How Netherlands has converted its prisons into homes for refugees?
With an ever plummeting crime rate, Netherlands has a lot of empty prisons. The country had to close down 19 prisons in 2013 because it didn't have enough criminals to fill them with.

But now it seems that Netherlands has found the perfect way to utilize this space for a noble cause. A government agency is using these prisons to house refugees.

When the number of refugees seeking asylum started to increase – more than 50,000 entered Netherlands in the last year alone – the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) saw a practical solution by using these empty prisons as shelters.

Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and chief Associated Press photographer for the Middle East, Muhammed Muheisen, has dedicated the past few years of his life in capturing the refugee crisis on his camera, as hoards of people move across continents in pursuit of peace.

He says, "The question always in my head was, what happens next? The journey doesn't stop the moment they enter a country."

When in last fall, Muheisen heard rumours about penitentiaries being used as shelters for refugees, he didn't exactly understand.

It took him six months to seek permission for taking photographs inside these prisons. Subsequently, he spent 40 days in getting to know these residents and capturing their lives.

He says that dozens of nationalities are virtually housed under one roof. These refugees spend at least six months at these prisons, while waiting their turn to be granted asylum. However, they are free to come and go anytime they feel. Muheisen says that some have even developed good friendships with their Dutch neighbours.

Although these refugees are not allowed to work, but they spend their idol time in mastering the Dutch language and learning how to ride a bicycle, as both are quintessential parts of the Dutch way of life.

All these people who have been forced to flee their homelands are now living in these prisons of Netherlands in perpetual hope of a brighter future, as they feel that it is probably the safest country in the world where there are no prisoners to put in jails.

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