The Dutch Healthcare and Youth Inspectorate (IGJ) announced Wednesday that a 3-month-old child died at an emergency facility for refugees in Ter Apel. “The baby died this morning in a sports hall that serves as emergency shelter for asylum seekers in Ter Apel, Westerwolde municipality,” the IGJ said. The cause of the death remains unknown, and the agency said it had launched an investigation jointly with the Inspectorate of Security and Justice. Apart from determining the cause of the baby’s death, the probe will also look into living conditions at the Ter Apel reception center and the sports hall that has been converted into temporary accommodation for new arrivals.
In the meantime, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has sent a team to Ter Apel to provide medical care to the asylum seekers, RTV Noord reports. The charity sends doctors and nurses to areas of international conflict, and has healthcare professionals stationed in 70 countries worldwide. It is the first time, however, the organisation offers medical assistance in the Netherlands. “The conditions in which these people find themselves are inhumane,” says Judith Sargentini, director of MSF Netherlands. “We call on the government and the municipality to immediately improve the living conditions of this vulnerable group of people and to provide them with access to medical care.”
MSF had visited the application center last week and likened the conditions there to Moria, the infamous refugee camp that was torched on the Greek island of Lesbos in 2020.
Hundreds of people spend nights outdoors in Ter Apel, sleeping on the roadside, often on the damp ground, with little or no access to shelter, food, showers and toilets. In the past few months, some asylum seekers have also had to sleep on chairs and the floor at the center as overcrowding problems continue to plague the facility.