Asylum seekers looking to go through the registration process in Ter Apel are no longer sleeping outside, as of the 29th of July, due to the opening of sufficient alternative reception centres.
However, the crisis is far from over. One out of three employees of the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA), who operate the reception centre in Ter Apel, have dropped out, reports NRC.
‘We are still in the middle of the crisis’, warned Frank Neervoort, national spokesperson for COA, as reported by RTV Noord. The situation has only improved slightly, he continued. While people are no longer sleeping outside the reception centre, many still have to spend hours waiting for their appointments in the daytime.
The tents themselves: large light-brown sheets, intended to keep the asylum seekers sheltered overnight, remain on the reception grounds. For now, the asylum seekers awaiting their appointments outside the facility frequently use the still-standing tents as a means of shelter from the sun and rain.
“They can only be removed when we are sure that no more people have to wait outside,” said Jacqueline Engbers, a spokesperson for COA Ter Apel, as reported by RTV Noord. While the grounds are significantly more hygienic than before, and the fact that asylum seekers no longer have to sleep outside a significant improvement to the crisis, she too feels that the situation remains on the brink of chaos.
According to Engbers, COA employees are still working overtime, despite the opening of new reception centres. These duties include providing food and drinks to the asylum seekers waiting outside the facility, as well as directing refugees to appropriate shelter locations.
A statement by Prime Minister Rutte, as reported previously by the NOS, clarifies that the root cause of the crisis is a backlog of available permanent housing for refugees and asylum seekers who have already successfully gone through the application procedure. With insufficient reception centres, and refugee centres throughout the country bogged down by status holders without allocated permanent housing, facilities such as the COA in Ter Apel are facing the brunt of the crisis.
While the situation is far from over, things seem to be slowly improving for asylum seekers in Ter Apel.