Amid an ongoing refugee crisis that has gripped the Netherlands recently and reverberated around the world, King Willem-Alexander visited the Ter Apel reception center Wednesday to meet with the employees of various agencies and the asylum seekers themselves. The king was accompanied by Eric van der Burg, State Secretary for Justice and Security who is charged with dealing with refugees.
During his visit, Willem-Alexander spoke with with the employees of the refugee accommodation service COA, local police officers, and a few agents of the aliens police, RTV Noord reports.
He also met with Red Cross workers, and the representatives of the refugee agency Vluchtelingenwerk and medical charity Doctors without Borders (MSF). The MSF, which typically works only in areas of international conflict, deployed a team of healthcare professionals in Ter Apel last week.
The Ter Apel facility, which is at the center of the current crisis, is designed to house up to 2,000 people and is also the place where refugees have to report in order to begin their asylum application process.
But over the past few months, slow processing of asylum requests and overcrowding at the center led to hundreds of people camping outside. The death last week of a three-month old infant in a sports hall that served as emergency shelter sparked widespread shock and recrimination, with the European Commission calling on the Dutch authorities to investigate the tragedy “thoroughly.”
The cabinet announced last week it would temporarily suspend accepting 1,000 asylum seekers annually under an EU migrant deal with Turkey, and only bring over the families of successful asylum applicants with a home – a measure criticised by the ombudsman for children.