Following weeks of increasingly overcrowded conditions, the Groningen Security Region has opened investigations into the legal possibilities of a temporary closure of the Refugee Reception Centre in Ter Apel.
Meanwhile, the Red Cross has made an urgent appeal to the cabinet requesting the immediate opening of a second application centre in the hopes of speeding up registration procedures.
While the cabinet is already in the process of opening a second application centre in Flevoland, the Red Cross feels that the time it would take to finish setting up the location, a period of roughly two months from July, is too long, given the extreme conditions currently faced by asylum seekers in Ter Apel, reports RTV Drenthe.
“But every time you think that the bottom in the shelter has been reached, we slide down another layer. That is downright inhumane,” said Marieke van Schaik, director of the Red Cross, to RTV Drenthe. Under her eye, the Red Cross has been helping refugees outside Ter Apel for several weeks. She stated that she has seen asylum seekers in need of medical attention alongside the poor hygiene conditions of the impromptu camp.
As has been the case for some weeks, the majority of the asylum seekers camping outside the reception centre in Ter Apel are doing so out of fear of losing their spots in the application procedure. According to van Schaik, many of the refugees who departed from Ter Apel for emergency shelters indeed did not know how or when to return to the application centre for their interviews, effectively shuffling them to the back of the queue.
The chaos of the last few weeks, as well as the seemingly deplorable conditions outside the reception centre, has prompted the cabinet to consider temporarily closing the site altogether, reports RTV Drenthe. In March the cabinet considered a similar course of action, however, that endeavour bore no fruit in the end.
Following the incident last Saturday, the 16th of July, wherein some 300 people slept outside the application centre out of fear of missing their interview appointments, the calls for an immediate solution to the Ter Apel reception crisis from various organizations, such as the Red Cross, has been louder than ever.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte, as reported previously by the NOS, suggests that the root of the issue is a backlog of available permanent housing for refugees who have already successfully gone through the application procedure. These refugees, who are referred to as ‘status holders’, as such are forced to stay within other application centres throughout the Netherlands, ultimately resulting in the blockage.
Ter Apel, which is primarily intended to act as a reception centre from where asylum seekers are sent to other refugee centres, is, as such, bearing the brunt of the pressure.
How the cabinet will respond to the Red Cross’ calls for an immediate new reception centre, remains to be seen.