Red Cross intervenes in refugee housing crisis, sets up tents


The Red Cross set up tents next to the overcrowded Ter Apel refugee reception centre on Wednesday night in an effort to head off the repeat of Tuesday’s scenes, in which dozens of people were left sleeping in fields because the location was full.

In the event the tents were not needed because the Groningen safety board had arranged emergency accommodation for 100 people in Heerenveen, and the Red Cross took care of the transport.

It is a ‘low point’ for the Netherlands ‘that the Red Cross was forced to do this’, the organisation’s director Marieke van Schaik told NOS news.

‘I was there at around 11.30,’ she said. ‘I saw a man in a wheelchair, families with children waiting for a minibus. If we move people during the day, then there will be a place for those who arrive at night. It is a question of being prepared.’

Some 200 people a day are currently arriving in Ter Apel.

The Red Cross and other organisations which help refugees have accused local councils of failing to provide accommodation and say beds which have been organized for Ukrainian refugees are being left empty.

‘Councils are not making places available, or if they are, it is for two months. And then we will be back in the same position,’ Van Schaik said.

Junior justice minister Eric van der Burg, who is in charge of refugees, on Wednesday renewed calls for more locations. He plans to set up four regional registration centres to relieve the burden on Ter Apel, where all refugees must report on arrival in the Netherlands.

One reason for the crisis is the lack of regular housing for refugees who have been granted residency rights. Some 13,000 people who are currently living in refugee centres should be living in ordinary housing in the community.

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