The Dutch refugee agency COA is on the verge of collapse, with almost one in three workers at the Ter Apel reception centre out sick, the NRC reported on Friday.
The absenteeism rate is high at other locations – reaching 9% nationwide – which is almost double the national average, the NRC said. The agency is also grappling to fill over 1,000 vacancies by the end of the year, which will add around 25% to its current workforce.
COA management alerted the government to the problem almost a year ago, warning that the situation was dire for ‘both workers and residents’, the paper said.
The agency is currently taking care of 43,000 refugees, both people who have recently applied for asylum and over 15,000 who have been granted residency rights but cannot be housed elsewhere. Long delays in processing applications are additional problem.
In addition, hundreds of asylum seekers have been sleeping outdoors at the Ter Apel reception centre, because of the shortage of beds and the fear of losing their place in the queue.
National statistics agency CBS said just over 7,000 people requested asylum in the Netherlands in April, May and June, twice the figure in the same period last year, when coronavirus travel restrictions were in place.
Syrians accounted for around one third of the new applications, followed by people from Turkey and Afghanistan. Some 130 Russians also applied for asylum in the second quarter, the highest figure ever recorded.
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