The situation at the Ter Apel refugee registration centre is so serious that the Groningen regional safety board has told the government it can no longer cope, current affairs show Nieuwsuur reported on Wednesday evening.
The safety board has invoked an Article 51 procedure which is usually confined to crises and disasters and ‘that is where we are at the moment’, local safety board chief Koen Schuiling told the programme.
Junior justice minister Ankie Broekers-Knol has now pledged to ensure 500 new beds for asylum seekers but this is not enough to change the situation, Schuiling said. ‘The number of people requesting asylum every day is as big as ever, and we already knew about Broekers-Knol’s pledge,’ he said.
Thousands of extra places are needed to ensure asylum seekers are received in a humane way, he said. ‘It is unsafe, very risky in terms of infection and fire, to keep so many people in such small rooms,’ he said. ‘The situation is untenable.’
The Ter Apel reception centre has been coping with hundreds of new arrivals for the past few days. Earlier this week, over 750 people were forced to sleep in the emergency marquees, when there is officially only space for around 275.
The regional safety boards agreed earlier this week that at least 800 to 1,500 new beds are needed in the short term. Among the temporary options which are being used is a boat in Groningen, caravans in Overloon and a former military barracks in Tilburg.
Last month, 3,962 people applied for asylum in the Netherlands, including 1,199 from Afghanistan, of whom 1,104 were brought out of the country in the evacuation. The next biggest group – 1,133 – was people from Syria.
The refugee settlement agency COA has capacity to accommodate almost 32,000 refugees across 74 locations.
However, nearly 11,000 places are being taken up by people who have been granted refugee status but cannot be rehoused because of the current housing crisis.
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