Sep 20, 2023 at 7:19 PM Update: 8 minutes ago
There are almost as many unaccompanied minor asylum seekers in Ter Apel as there were during the height of the crisis last year. The question is whether it will be possible to arrange beds for all young people this coming night.
Ter Apel has room for 55 of these so-called unaccompanied minor foreigners (AMVs). These young people come to the Netherlands without parents and apply for asylum here.
The Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) has long increased the number of reception places for these young people to 120. Now it is so busy that 330 places are occupied with unaccompanied minors, says a COA spokesperson. “We have used our capabilities to the fullest.”
The number of single young people in Ter Apel is almost at the level of the crisis last year. At its peak, there were almost 360 unaccompanied minors in Ter Apel. “That is the limit, more is really not possible,” says the spokesperson.
The question is therefore whether it will be possible to give everyone a place to sleep tonight. “We really have to consider what happens to the young people who arrive tonight,” says the COA spokesperson.
Calling for more places did not yield sufficient results
UNICEF has now sounded the alarm. “UNICEF has been hearing worrying signals all day long that there are no longer enough beds for unaccompanied children in Ter Apel tonight. Dozens of children are in danger of having to sleep on a chair or on the floor tonight,” the aid organization says.
“All employees are doing their utmost, but the pressure is enormous because no new locations are being opened. Children lack structure, wander around the grounds and lack sufficient personal attention.”
Since last year, it has been seen that the number of single young people applying for asylum in the Netherlands has increased significantly. This puts even more pressure on the already scarce shelter places for these young people. Several calls from the COA, among others, have not yet provided enough space.
‘Waiting locations’ also full
The large number of applications from unaccompanied minors also has another effect. These young people have priority for identification and registration, and that process also takes more time than for a ‘normal’ asylum seeker.
Partly because of this, it is now busy in the ‘waiting rooms’ in Ter Apel and the extra waiting location in Assen. There are asylum seekers who have already had a short pre-registration, but still have to go through the normal identification and registration process in Ter Apel or Budel.
Outgoing State Secretary Eric van der Burg (Asylum) has therefore asked municipalities if they want to open more of these waiting locations. Amsterdam was the first, and as far as we know, the only one to respond to this.
According to a spokesperson for Van der Burg, there are “many” discussions about other buffer locations and a number of discussions are also “far-reaching”. But he could not say whether and which municipalities will open a waiting location.
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Asylum system remains under pressure
The asylum system in the Netherlands has been far too busy for a long time. Last year, people even slept outside the gates of the registration center in Ter Apel. The Ministry of Justice and Security expected even more asylum seekers this year, but the expected increase seems not to be too bad so far.
This year it was only so busy on the night of May 22 to 23 that people had to sleep on chairs and mattresses. According to a COA spokesperson, this has not happened since.