Refugee protest camp grows (update)

Over 300 failed asylum seekers are now said to be living in a protest camp, set up outside the Ter Apel refugee centre in Groningen, news agency Novum said on Friday.

The camp was set up last Tuesday, when a group of around 50 Iraqi nationals put up tents in protest at government plans to deport them. They wanted the immigration service IND to look again at their cases, arguing they faced death if sent back to Iraq.
The Iraqis have now been joined by some 80 Somali nationals, several Iranians and people from Eritrea, Azerbaijan and Afghanistan, Novum says.
No eviction planned
Immigration minister Gerd Leers said on Tuesday the camp could not remain in place for long and offered the protestors a week’s accommodation while they decided whether or not to return home voluntarily.
The protestors may form a threat to public order and to the government’s immigration policy, he said, but declined to say if the campers would be evicted. In Dutch law, failed asylum seekers are required to return home voluntarily or face deportation. Iraq will not cooperate with forced deportations.
The local Vlagtwedde council said later on Friday it has no plans to evict the protestors and the situation at the camp is manageable. It says around 80 of the people at the camp stay overnight and the rest are visitors during the day.
In December, a group of some 45 Somali asylum seekers set up camp outside the Ter Apel centre in protest at plans to deport them. The IND eventually decided to review their cases and several were granted refugee status.

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