05 dec 2023 om 05:06
Due to the persistent crowds at the registration center in Ter Apel, the Red Cross is once again assisting. According to those involved, the “distressing situation” is now less visible and large-scale, but there is also a lot of overlap with the situation last year.
The Red Cross has been helping at the registration center in Ter Apel since last weekend due to the persistent crowds. The Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) has received approximately 46,000 asylum applications so far this year, not much higher than last year. But the focus is now more on autumn and winter. The lack of flow from Ter Apel due to the closure of temporary shelters contributes to the current pressure. The situation in the registration center is called “distressing”.
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People who had been sleeping on chairs or on the floor in the cold waiting area for days, had no access to showers or suffered from allergic reactions or scabies. VluchtelingenWerk employees have seen all this happening in Ter Apel recently.
The registration center for asylum seekers near the Groningen village has been extremely busy for weeks. The situation reached a new low last weekend: the Red Cross was called in.
“Since Saturday evening we have mainly brought blankets and inflatable mattresses and distributed packages with shampoo, soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes,” says a spokesperson for the aid organization. In addition, clothing packages are ready and a mobile shower room is being set up. “In fact, everything to ensure that it becomes a little more humane there.”
The Red Cross also runs several reception locations itself. The aid organization stepped in once before to provide assistance in this way in Ter Apel. That happened last year. It was so busy at the registration center that people slept in the grass in front of the site.
The numbers (and expectations)
Up to and including this week, the IND has received approximately 46,000 asylum applications. These are not only people who apply for asylum for the first time, but also people who were allowed to travel with their family member. At this time last year, the IND had received approximately 45,700 applications.
A big difference with last year is that it was very busy, especially in the summer months. The focus is now mainly in autumn and winter. The number of asylum applications this week is higher than last year for the ninth week in a row.
But if you compare the current figures with the numbers that the outgoing cabinet had predicted, these numbers are still on the low side. The outgoing cabinet had estimated that a minimum of 45,000 and a maximum of 68,300 people would apply for asylum this year. With the approximately 1,300 applications now being made per week, the chance that the maximum scenario will come true this year seems very small.
Sleepers outside made the situation much more visible
There are currently no outdoor sleepers. The Council for Refugees is hopeful that this will be prevented this year. “Everything is being done,” says the spokesperson.
For example, since it was announced that the Red Cross would assist, much more action has been taken. “For example, we see that the IND is doing everything it can to arrange good food. In recent nights, everyone has also been able to sleep on an air mattress or mattress instead of on a chair. Improvements have been made within what is possible.”
The biggest difference with the situation last year is that everything took place outside the gates of the registration center, and was therefore very visible. “Now everything happens behind closed doors,” says the spokesperson for the Council for Refugees. The group of people in such an approximate position is admittedly smaller, “but this should not continue for too long.”
A spokesperson for the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) endorses this. Once again, the situation is dire, and the organization has been sounding the alarm for weeks in the hope that more shelter places will become available.
Hundreds of asylum seekers are once again sleeping outside in Ter Apel
From emergency shelter to emergency shelter
The COA spokesperson says that they are currently trying to get as many people through as possible. The current pressure on Ter Apel is only partly due to the slightly larger number of people reporting. All parties now mainly point to the lack of flow from Ter Apel.
The stagnant flow actually has two main causes. The first: there is a group of about sixteen thousand status holders who occupy almost a quarter of the available places in asylum seekers’ centers. They are still waiting for a house, but this is difficult due to the tight housing market. COA decided last week to call municipalities that are lagging behind to ask whether they can do more.
In addition, many temporary shelters are closing their doors and new places are being added only gradually. “Far too few locations are provided, which means we remain in a situation where people move from emergency shelter to emergency shelter,” the spokesperson for the Council for Refugees explains. “Almost nothing has changed about that situation. That underlying problem must be solved.”
It is difficult to predict what the coming weeks will look like in Ter Apel. “Everything depends on the number of places that become available elsewhere in the country and how much outflow there is,” says a COA spokesperson. “That is extremely difficult to predict.”