New police units ready to assist, register refugees

Refugees at the Lebanon-Syria border (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/H. Murdock). (Child asylum seekers (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/H. Murdock))

The National Police and marechaussee, a police force that works as a branch of the military, have established a new team to help with the increasing number of refugees in the Netherlands. 

In addition to the asylum application center in Ter Apel, refugees can now also register with this new police team in three new locations - Amsterdam, Rotterdam and a new refugee center in Budel, the Volkskrant reported on Thursday. The police will also ensure the safety of the refugees and prevent tensions in society escalating.

"The scale of the influx necessitates a nationally coordinated approach", police chief Paul van Musscher, who is responsible for the portfolio immigration and migration crime, said to the newspaper. "Asylum seekers are also entitled to protection from the police. These are people who will often stay in the Netherlands for a considerable period, or perhaps permanently, going to school, looking for work. The shelter in municipalities affects the entire society, so the police have to be involved." He emphasized that the decision on whether or not a refugee may stay in the Netherlands still lies with the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

The newly established team is made up of the National Police and the Koninklijke Marechaussee, Royal Military Police. All police units will deploy as much capacity as is needed in the team. The asylum seekers will be guided with "empathy and respect" during and after their registration. "We are well aware that they come from a terrible war situation and have a miserable journey behind them. We also realize that false images may exist about these people, as if they were terrorists. We want to show that we are there for their safety too. We will protect them if it is necessary, and act if their are criminal offenses."

Until recently Germany and Sweden were the countries most affected by large number of arriving refugees. The Netherlands started feeling the same pressure this week. Over the summer period, the central agency for the reception asylum seekers, the COA, register between 1 thousand and 1,500 a week. Two weeks ago that number increased to 1,800. This past weekend, it shot up from 2,400 to 3,100 during the course of one night.

Many municipalities are hastily arranging emergency shelter for these people to make sure they do not have to end up on the street. On Wednesday it was announced that a massive refugee tent camp, that can house 3 thousand people, is opening in Nijmegen.