Asylum seekers clash in Ter Apel; "A nasty situation," State Secretary says
Disturbances broke out at the gates of the asylum application center in Ter Apel late on Sunday afternoon. The police responded to the scene and detained one person but ultimately decided not to arrest him, a police spokeswoman said. State Secretary Eric van der Burg (Asylum) spoke of “a nasty situation.”
Police officers stayed at the overcrowded shelter in the province of Groningen to monitor the situation. They separated the quarreling parties, the police said. The Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) would not provide any information because the clashes happened outside the center’s fences.
An ANP photographer at the scene saw that a group of over 100 asylum seekers clashed with a group of about ten other people. They allegedly stole things from them. Bags flew through the air, the photographer said.
The situation has been restless at the Ter Apel asylum center for months. The entire asylum chain is stuck. Refugees, asylum seekers with a residency permit for the Netherlands, can’t move out of the asylum centers because there is no housing for them. As a result, there is no place for new asylum seekers.
Municipalities have opened emergency shelters, but not enough to solve the shortages. As a result, people are regularly forced to sleep outside the application center in Ter Apel. About 250 people had to sleep outside on Saturday night. Sunday night also saw people sleeping in the open air.
Several dozen asylum seekers have been protesting at Ter Apel in recent days. Until Sunday evening, they lay at the center’s gates, refusing food and water and refusing to take shelter in makeshift tents.
State Secretary Van der Burg called it “a nasty situation” that the police had to intervene in on Sunday evening. “At the moment, my first priority is that women and children standing there can safely enter and spend the night safe,” he said on Sunday evening. “I am in close contact with the COA and the police to make sure that no women and children are sleeping outside.”
Reporting by ANP