Hundreds of asylum seekers wait on Saturday afternoon in front of the crowded application center in Ter Apel. It is unclear whether they will also spend the night there. A spokeswoman for Doctors Without Borders (AzG) calls the situation ‘chaotic’.
Some of the refugees were taken to Vlissingen by bus this afternoon. According to the COA (Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers), about seventy people are involved. It is not yet clear whether there will be more buses to pick up people.
People return again
There are still hundreds of people outside the application center. About 250 of them spent last night on the lawn. In addition, some of the approximately 400 people who were taken by bus to Utrecht, Stadskanaal, Zuidbroek, Almere and Groningen on Friday evening, have returned. At the same time, new asylum seekers have arrived. The spokeswoman estimates that about 500 people have gathered at the application center.
120 people were returned from Stadskanaal in the morning and buses from Zuidbroek also arrived during the day, she says. The lodging in both places was for one night. The return of the approximately 200 people means that the ‘alarming’ health situation on the grounds of the application center continues. ‘We are working on additional facilities (more dixi’s) and other solutions are being worked on,’ a COA spokeswoman said.
The returned asylum seekers feel more comfortable now that they have showered and eaten, but they are also worried. “Nobody knows what’s going to happen tonight,” the MSF spokeswoman said. “A lot is unclear. It hasn’t gotten any cleaner outside the gate either and the situation is chaotic.”
The MSF team treated 44 people on Saturday, which, according to the spokeswoman, is ‘quite a lot’. One person was taken to hospital by ambulance with heart problems. Someone also had a foot wound that had to be stitched up. On Sunday, the aid workers from Doctors Without Borders will be present again.
Emergency shelter Emmen
The COA cannot confirm whether there will be an extra emergency shelter in Emmen. RTL News and the regional channels RTV Noord and RTV Drenthe reported Friday evening that Emmen would have promised the extra emergency shelter. The municipality said in a reaction on Twitter that it was ‘surprised’ by the coverage. ‘The municipality of Emmen has not made any decisions or commitments about this’.
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Alarm about health situation
The Health and Youth Care Inspectorate (IGJ) sounded the alarm on Friday with health minister Ernst Kuipers and the chairman of the Groningen Security Region Koen Schuiling about the health situation on the grounds of the application center in ter Apel. On Friday evening, buses transported about 390 asylum seekers to emergency reception locations in Stadskanaal, Zuidbroek, Almere, Groningen and Utrecht. Some chose to stay. According to a spokesperson for the Council for Refugees, many asylum seekers were ‘afraid to get on a bus’ for fear that their asylum application would be processed later as a result.
At least fifty asylum seekers were brought to Almere, a hundred to Utrecht. The latter municipality received the evacuees in the Jaarbeurs. On Saturday they will be housed in a different location in the city or region, mayor Sharon Dijksma, chairman of the Utrecht Security Region, reported. In order to help resolve the ‘distressing and acute situation’, the municipality of Utrecht will soon send its own people to Ter Apel to help. This includes crisis managers and other auxiliary troops who will provide support to ensure that registration and the reception of people run as quickly and smoothly as possible.
As a result of the reception problems, Hotel Lumen in Zwolle will make 35 rooms available for a maximum of seventy asylum seekers from Sunday evening. This concerns emergency shelter for a week, the municipality of Zwolle reports in a statement on Saturday. ‘We are very grateful to Hotel Lumen that they were able to switch so quickly and that the first asylum seekers can already be received on Sunday evening’, writes Mayor Peter Snijders.
State Secretary Eric van den Burg (Justice and Security) asked him ‘urgently’ to arrange extra emergency shelter on Friday evening. The hotel also opened its doors to asylum seekers in mid-July. ‘Because the previous experiences were positive, the reception could be arranged very quickly this time. Neighboring companies have now also been informed about this temporary measure’, according to the municipality.
Inspectors already in Ter Apel
The Dutch Council for Refugees calls the cry for help from the Health and Youth Care Inspectorate ‘not surprising’ and does not understand why the signal did not come earlier. “It has been like this for weeks, maybe months,” said chairman of the board Frank Candel on Saturday morning in the NOS Radio 1 Journaal. “I’m there with some regularity and it’s just dirty, dirty and irresponsible.”
According to him, the IGJ was already in Ter Apel before and he does not understand why it is only now intervening. A spokesperson for the Health and Youth Care Inspectorate confirmed to the news channel that inspectors had previously visited the application center.
Theo Weterings, portfolio holder Asylum at the Association of Dutch Municipalities, said in the broadcast that he could understand the position of the Council for Refugees ‘very well’. “The situation had certainly been bad for weeks. This has also been stated several times from the Groningen Safety Region and by the municipality of Westerwolde.”
Watch our videos about the problems among asylum seekers in the Netherlands:
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