External agency to provide care for asylum seekers; Minors sheltered in former prison
The Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) has engaged the mediation agency Arts en Specialist to arrange medical care for asylum seekers in crisis emergency shelters. Minister Ernst Kuipers of Public Health informed parliament about this on behalf of the Cabinet. Fifty unaccompanied minor asylum seekers from Ter Apel will be accommodated in the former Overmaze prison in Maastricht.
The Healthcare Asylum Seekers (GZA) is ordinarily responsible for arranging medical care for asylum seekers, but it is currently unable to meet the need for care, Kuipers wrote to parliament. Arts en Specialist is a mediator who helps doctors, medical specialists, and psychologists get in touch with employers. Kuipers did not specify which services this agency will provide, except that it should relieve pressure on the GZA.
At some reception locations, care for asylum seekers has also been arranged in different ways. The COA will cover the costs, Kuipers said in response to questions from MPs Suzanne Kroger and Corrine Ellemeet of GroenLinks about a scathing letter from Doctors without Borders and Doctors of the World. The aid organizations said that the medical situation in emergency shelters is untenable and irresponsible and threatens to escalate.
The COA, under the responsibility of the State Secretary for Justice and Security, is legally obliged to organize care for asylum seekers, Kuipers wrote to parliament.
Fifty unaccompanied minor asylum seekers from Ter Apel can be sheltered in Maastricht for eight weeks from September 12. It concerns children between 14 and 17 who came to the Netherlands to apply for asylum without their parents or legal guardian. They will be housed in the former Overnaze prison in Maastricht.
Ukrainian refugees are already living in the former prison. According to the municipality, guidance and support have been arranged for both groups, which will be housed in separate wings.
The Nidos Foundation will take custody of the children. The foundation provides guidance to the young people 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It will also ensure that the kids adhere to the house rules.
The municipality will try to get the children to school. “Because there is a national shortage of teachers, it is possible that an alternative program is put together at the location. Such as sports and games, language lessons and creative activities,” said alderman Anita Bastiaans. “We are committed to making life as normal as possible, where children participate in education or daytime activities.”
Around midnight, some 400 people were waiting outside the asylum registration center in Ter Apel to see if there was accommodation for them. Earlier on Thursday, aid organization MiGreat distributed ponchos and tarps to protect the waiting asylum seekers from the rain.
Reporting by ANP