Doctors Without Borders steps in at Ter Apel; First time intervening in NL
From Thursday, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) will provide medical and psychological care to asylum seekers outside the gate of the asylum registration center in Ter Apel. It is the first time MSF has offered medical assistance in the Netherlands. Judith Sargentini, director of MSF Netherlands, said that employees of the organization visited the registration center, and the living conditions outside the gate shocked them.
“Doctors Without Borders has been around for 50 years, but it is the first time that we will offer emergency aid in the Netherlands, and we are doing it because the Dutch government has let it go this far, said Sargentini. “The conditions in which the people at Ter Apel find themselves are inhumane.”
The MSF team that visited the registration center on Friday found people outside the gate in living conditions that the organization had previously seen in places like the Greek refugee camp Moria. The team spoke to people who have not been able to wash for a week, resulting in many developing skin diseases. Hundreds of people sleep outside every day. Among them are pregnant women, children, and people with chronic illnesses, the organization said. MSF warned that some chronically ill people have run out of medication and are now not receiving new medicines. “If this situation continues, it could lead to serious medical emergencies.”
Sargentini said that the MSF decided to provide emergency aid at the registration center after close consultation with parties like the Red Cross and the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA). “What we do, we do in close contact with the Red Cross. So we look at where and how we can complement each other as completely as possible,” explained the MSF director. “The Red Cross mainly works in the field of first aid. We focus on primary care. That includes treating injuries, infections, and skin diseases, providing prescriptions for acute and chronic illnesses, and providing psychological first aid. There are also people who have experienced trauma at Ter Apel.”
MSF will work at the registration center with a team of four to six people. This team consists of doctors and nurses, and they will work five days a week. Sargentini said their initial plan for deployment is for four to six weeks. “This is really a short-term solution. A long-term solution must be considered, such as creating more and decent reception locations. And implementation bodies like the COA must be listened to because they already mapped out this crisis years ago.”
Reporting by ANP