THE HAGUE, The Netherlands (AP) — The Dutch leader said he was ashamed that hundreds of asylum seekers were forced to sleep in sweltering heat outside a crowded migrant reception center as his government on Friday announced relief measures by providing more housing. and temporary restriction of migration.
“What is happening in Ter Apel is terrible,” Prime Minister Mark Rutte said, referring to the center in the northeastern village of Ter Apel.
But, he added, “I think together we have found a way out of this problem.”
Among the many measures announced by Rutte’s four-party ruling coalition were steps to temporarily curb family reunification of migrants who have been granted refugee status, provide more housing for people whose asylum requests are granted, and speed up the processing and repatriation of people from countries that are considered safe.
“ “That’s 700 people who don’t sleep well: no shower, in very poor condition, no medical care.””
Part of the current crisis is that people who have been granted refugee status remain in asylum centers because they have nowhere to go amid a nationwide housing crisis.
The Netherlands will also temporarily stop accepting this year and 2023 migrants who were supposed to be sent to the Netherlands under the European Union’s 2016 agreement with Turkey amid the EU’s migration crisis, said the minister in charge of migration and asylum, Erik van der Burg.
Authorities moved 150 migrants on Thursday night from the overcrowded Ter Apel asylum center to two gyms in the central city of Apeldoorn to ease the suffering of people who were camped out in the open. The city said it provided short-term housing to ease the crisis and that the asylum seekers would move to another location in four days.
Van der Burgh said the Dutch military would help create a place to house some of the people who are now sleeping outside in Ter Apel.
Hundreds of migrants sleep outdoors in appalling conditions near Ter Apel because the refugee center is too crowded to accommodate them. The situation is so grim that Médecins Sans Frontières sent a team there on Thursday, launching a mission in the Netherlands for the first time.
Rutte acknowledged that despite the new measures, some asylum seekers will sleep outside the Ter Apel compound during the weekend.
A 3-month-old baby died this week in the center of Ter Apel, and authorities are investigating the cause of death. On Thursday, two men were taken to the hospital, one with a heart attack and the other with diabetes that had not been treated for several weeks.
“These are 700 people who are not sleeping well: no showers, very poor conditions, no medical care,” Judith Sargentini, director of Médecins Sans Frontières from the Netherlands, told The Associated Press about the situation in Ter Apel.
While many Dutch cities and towns provided places for Ukrainians fleeing the war in their country, reception of asylum seekers from other countries was weak. Most of the people arriving in Ter Apel are Syrians fleeing the civil war in their country.