MPs demand explanation about baby's death at Ter Apel asylum center
Parliamentarians were horrified by the death of a baby in the sports hall at the asylum registration center in Ter Apel. GroenLinks and the PvdA want State Secretary Eric van der Burg (Asylum) to explain the baby’s death by letter. At least the entire coalition and Volt supported the request.
The parties want “clarity as soon as possible about what happened and what the exact cause of death is,” said Kati Piri (PvdA), who submitted the request with GroenLinks MP Suzanne Kroger. PvdA, GroenLinks, Volt, and SP also want a parliamentary debate on the matter.
The Cabinet’s asylum policy “is running wild,” so SP parliamentarian Jasper van Dijk submitted a request for a parliamentary debate on Wednesday. The immediate reason for the request was that over 700 asylum seekers had to sleep outside on the grass in Ter Apel on Tuesday night. The death of the 3-month-old baby comes on top of that. “The misery is only increasing.”
CDA MP Anne Kuik visited Ter Apel on Tuesday. “I think it’s really shameful that we don’t have the asylum reception in order,” said the Christian Democrat. The problem, according to Kuik, is that the outflow of refugees from asylum centers has come to a standstill. “We need the help of all municipalities with this.” She also wants Van der Burg to find out what happened around the baby's death.
In addition to clarity about the death of the baby, GroenLinks and the PvdA want to know from Van der Burgh how he views the living conditions at the shelter in Ter Apel. According to Piri, the chaos around the application center is “only getting bigger,” and solutions for “human reception are far from in sight.”
SP parliamentarian Van Dijk wants the State Secretary to devise a structural solution to the asylum crisis as soon as possible instead of constantly taking ad hoc “panic measures.” He referred to, among other things, bypassing the municipality of Tubbergen by giving the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) permission to open an asylum center in a hotel in Albergen.
The COA estimated that “at least 700” asylum seekers slept outside on Wednesday night in front of the gate of the registration center in Ter Apel, RTV Noord reports. The situation is so bad that Doctors Without Borders decided to step in and offer medical and psychological assistance - the first time ever the aid organization intervenes in the Netherlands.
The United Nations refugee organization UNHCR also criticized the situation. “It is very sad,” said Andrea Vonkeman, head of UNHCR Netherlands, about the hundreds of people sleeping outside and the baby's death.
According to Vonkeman, the asylum situation in the Netherlands is being discussed at the highest level within the international UNHCR. She said that the UN organization is not taking steps yet. The UNHCR mainly tries to advise governments where things can be improved, said Vonkeman. “We are critical and constructive.”
At the end of July, the UNHCR and other organizations sent a scathing letter to the Cabinet, calling on them to take control of solving the crisis in asylum reception. Vonkeman agrees with more coercive measures, like designating the hotel in Albergen as a shelter. “The time for non-commitment is over,” said Vonkeman. “You really don’t want a more compelling system, but this isn’t working either. It has to move to a more predictable system.”
Reporting by ANP and NL Times