Ombudsman to investigate medical care for refugees
Thursday 21 February 2013
National ombudsman Alex Brenninkmeijer is to investigate the medical care available to asylum seekers in the Netherlands, following reports that doctors tending people in the Ter Apel protest camp are unable to cope.
Several hundred asylum seekers who lost their appeal for refugee status are currently living at the camp in Groningen province. Volunteer doctors told the ombudsman some of them have medical conditions which are not being properly treated.
Brenninkmeijer says he now plans to investigate whether the Netherlands is ensuring refugees have access to good medical care. The ombudsman has already identified 'bottlenecks' in the system, Nos reports.
Brenninkmeijer will also look into access to psychiatric care and the transfer of responsibility for treatment when refugees are moved to another centre or deported.
The asylum seekers in Ter Apel have set up camp outside the official refugee centre after being refused permission to stay in the Netherlands. Under Dutch law, they can only be given further accommodation if they agree to work toward their return.
The refugees, however, argue they cannot go back to their home country or do not have the proper papers. Many of them come from Somalia and Iran.