Ter Apel refugee centre again too full, 550 people are sleeping in tents

Refugee children on the Syrian border.

Refugee children on the Syrian border.Once again, the refugee assessment centre in Ter Apel is having to deal with hundreds more people than it has capacity for, local broadcaster RTV Noord said on Wednesday.

On Tuesday night, maximum capacity was exceeded by 600, sources told the broadcaster. Of them, 550 had to sleep in emergency accommodation such as tents, which is 275 more than there are beds for, the sources said.

In October, over 750 people were forced to sleep in the emergency marquees, and the regional safety boards agreed that at least 800 to 1,500 new beds are needed in the short term.

Among the temporary options which are currently being used is a boat in Groningen, caravans in Overloon and a former military barracks in Tilburg.

The situation is serious but is not as serious as in October this year, refugee settlement agency COA said.

All new refugees have to report to Ter Apel, in Groningen province, to register. From there, they are taken to other centres nationwide.


Meanwhile, tensions are running high at an emergency centre in Leeuwarden, where dozens of Afghan families are sharing space in a warehouse on an industrial estate with groups of young men, broadcaster NOS said.

Families who have been forced to flee Afghanistan are finding it hard to cope with the constant noise and shouting, which lasts until 4am, one refugee told the broadcaster.  He had been given a set of ear plugs for his sick wife.

Another said he felt forced to stand guard outside his family’s cubicle where his two young children were trying to sleep.

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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