Asylum seeker hurt in Amsterdam squat

An asylum seeker broke a vertebra and suffered brain hemorrhage last night when he crashed through a stairway balustrade in a home in Amsterdam in which 80 refugees are squatting.

The incident that has refueled the discussion about emergency accommodation for asylum seekers in the Netherlands. It also comes just a few days after Somali Nassir Guuleed (32) died at Vluchtgarage center in Amsterdam Zuidoost.

The asylum seekers have been in Amsterdam for two years. Their applications for residence turned down, the city is by law forbidden to assist them. The problem has meanwhile mushroomed and there are now several hundred people squatting illegally in buildings with poor sanitation and tense atmospheres.

Vluchtgarage is reportedly a consecutive string of daily fights among refugees, electricity hampers and there is no warm water. “The Netherlands has the responsibility to care for people who cannot care for themselves; but so far the Netherlands is not making good on that,” said Marysha Molthoff, spokesperson for the College of Human Rights.

Ibrahim Touré, the man who fell from the stairs Tuesday night experienced firsthand how little the Netherlands will do for asylum seekers. Police and ambulance personnel refused to enter the building because of reports it contained asbestos. “We had to carry Ibrahim up the stairs ourselves, even while we could see that he had serious injuries to his head,” said Mustafa Fafana who helped carry the 27-year-old Ivorian out of the building to the ambulance.

The building had passed a customary inspection by the city earlier in the day.

A spokesperson for Mayor Eberhard van der Laan has said that there is not much more the city can do. “This concerns squatting, not a formal center for asylum seekers. It’s the state that needs to find a solution.” The city inspects the squatted buildings, “and has done what it can do.” The spokesperson said the incidents are not yet a reason to rush and do something about the problem of the asylum seekers, which –with the death and the grave injury- has now entered public domain. “We should see how it develops further.”

 The City Council will discuss the incidents on Thursday, which coincides with the funeral of Somali Nassir Guuleed who died at Vluchtgarage. The Council is paying for the funeral.

State Secretary Fred Teeven of Justice, who is facing questions in parliament about the death of the Somali asylum seeker, has said the incidents are tragic. “Immigrants should not be living on the street or be squatting. They can get accommodation, where they can actively work toward repatriation.” But this is at the root of the problem as the asylum seekers claim they cannot return to their countries; the situation there is either too dangerous or they will not be issued entry papers.

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