Buses transport 400 asylum seekers from squalid camp in the Netherlands

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Authorities have moved some 400 asylum seekers from a makeshift camp outside a crowded migrant reception center in the northeast of the Netherlands after that a damning report called the site where hundreds of people slept rough a health hazard.

Leon Veldt, spokesman for the government’s accommodation organization for asylum seekers, said on Saturday the migrants had been moved overnight to other accommodation in other locations.

The move came after a team from the Health and Youth Inspectorate visited the squalid, temporary camp in the village of Ter Apel and said there was « a serious risk of outbreaks of infectious diseases due to the total lack of hygiene ».

A day earlier, 150 people had been moved to two sports halls in a central city in a bid to ease the crisis which has seen some 700 sleep outside the packed center this week. Refugee advocates have compared the situation to overcrowded camps in Greece and Italy, which are common first destinations for asylum seekers heading to Europe.

A 3-month-old baby died this week at a Ter Apel center gym, and authorities are investigating the cause of death. Two men were taken to hospital, one for a heart attack and the other for diabetes that had not been treated for weeks.

Conditions were so bad that the Dutch branch of Doctors Without Borders sent a team there on Thursday, the relief agency’s first deployment to the Netherlands.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Friday he was ashamed of the Ter Apel scenes. On Friday evening, the Rutte government announced a series of measures aimed at alleviating the crisis in the accommodation of asylum seekers in the country.

They include temporarily limiting family reunifications of refugees and the number of incoming migrants destined for the Netherlands under a 2016 agreement between the European Union and Turkey.

The government said it was also working with local municipalities to create more accommodation for people who are granted refugee status so they can leave asylum seeker centers more quickly, freeing up space for The new comers.

The Dutch army has been tasked with setting up a new camp to house people waiting to register asylum applications at the Ter Apel centre.

Milo Schoenmaker, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers, welcomed these measures: « With the measures that have been announced, the Ter Apel application center can, hopefully be relieved soon. At the same time, the places available are still insufficient to accommodate everyone.

While many Dutch cities have offered accommodation to Ukrainians who fled war in their country, reception has become scarce for asylum seekers from other countries. Most of the people arriving in Ter Apel are Syrians fleeing their country’s terrible civil war.


Follow AP’s coverage of migration issues at https://apnews.com/hub/migration

Mike Corder, Associated Press


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