Refugee reception in Ter Apel overcrowds as aid organizations sound the alarm
The Netherlands Council for Refugees, the Red Cross and UNICEF are sounding the alarm about the shortage of reception places for refugees from countries other than Ukraine. An extra pavilion was hastily built on Saturday morning at the Ter Apel asylum center by the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA), RTV Noord reports.
"The registration center in Ter Apel is now so full that the Groningen security region is considering closing the gates. Refugees from countries such as Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen who seek protection in the Netherlands will end up on the street," the organizations warn.
The aid organizations call on the Cabinet, the security regions and municipalities to "prevent this dark scenario of people ending up on the street at all costs and to immediately provide shelter locations.”
Refugees who come to the Netherlands must first report to Ter Apel to make an asylum application. From Ter Apel, they are distributed to asylum seekers centers in the country.
However, a shortage of reception locations is stranding more and more men, women and children on the run in emergency tents next to the application center in Ter Apel. Officially, there is room for 275 people there, but in recent days up to 700 refugees and asylum seekers have been waiting for a bed in another reception location.
Additionally, a spare pavilion was built in Ter Apel without permission, said Mayor Jaap Velema van Westerwolde to RTV Noord. It is unclear what purpose the tent is meant for.
“I don't know what it's for. Maybe to sleep in?” an Algerian boy in the reception center told RTV Noord. “I hope so, because it's completely full. No privacy, many children and really small children too. Men and women sleep together in a tent, that's not good.”
Velema called the erection of the tent a “panic reaction.” The construction is not allowed by the current permit, but the mayor has made an acception, according to RTV Noord.
"The tents are overcrowded and people sometimes sleep in chairs or on the floor, for lack of a bed," according to the aid organizations. The Groningen security region announced on Friday that it was considering “locking” the application center in Ter Apel in the short term and officially calling on assistance from other security regions. No decision had been made on this on Saturday.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times