Red Cross again drafted in to help at Ter Apel refugee centre

Refugees call for a change in policy outside parliament. Photo: MiGreat

The refugee settlement agency COA has again drafted in the Red Cross to help provide showers and other facilities for asylum seekers at the Ter Apel reception centre.

The shortage of beds and knock on effect of the housing crisis have left dozens of refugees sleeping in in the waiting rooms and on chairs, COA officials say. Now the Red Cross has installed two portable shower units for them, and more will be set up later this week. Officials will also provide a tent with battery units where new arrivals can charge their mobile phones.

Red Cross volunteers are also on site to provide extra bedding and personal hygiene items. They were last brought in to help ease the impact of overcrowding in June 2022.

The situation is worrying, a spokesman for the COA told broadcaster NOS. “We are constantly hunting for solutions.”

Last month COA said it would contact 45 municipalities that are failing to meet their obligations to provide shelter under a plan agreed between local mayors and provinces earlier in the month.

That plan was drawn up to try to relieve pressure at the Groningen centre where 2,500 people are currently staying in a facility that has a maximum capacity of 2,000.

The justice ministry has warned that the number of refugees with a permit to stay who are living in asylum seeker accommodation – which is intended for those whose claims are still being processed – could reach 21,000 by 2025 unless councils find alternatives.

The COA said its first efforts to find short-term accommodation were “hopeful”, with 129 refugees being moved in to temporary shelter and another 180 in the process of being transferred.

The agency did not name the 45 councils, but said they had all provided less than 30% of the places promised under the recent agreement.

“In the next few months we will select other municipalities that are falling behind. The aim is to move out another 500 people with permits every week, which is double the usual rate.”

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