NGOs still struggle to accommodate refugees after the Dutch government allocated more than €730 million to emergency shelters to put an end to the crisis of asylums in The Netherlands.
The government agreed on a high budget to solve the crisis and build more emergency shelters to accommodate everyone in need. More than 700 refugees had to sleep outside in horrible conditions in Ter Apel as NGOs couldn’t handle the wave of Ukrainians who came to The Netherlands and fled the ongoing fighting.
The European Council warned the Dutch Government of violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights due to its inability to find asylum for refugees who were left outside to camp.
“The problem started before the Ukrainians came because there was no system, no way of making an appointment,” says Petra Schultz, coordinator assistant of ASKV, an NGO that provides shelter for refugees in Amsterdam.
A crisis shortly followed the no-system situation in The Netherlands. Due to the EU treaty that facilitated citizens who fled the war in Ukraine with shorter procedures to access asylum, NGOs pushed to the side immigrants of other nationalities.
“I am concerned about the stark differences in the treatment accorded to Ukrainians and to those of other nationalities,” is stated in a letter by Dunja Mijatović, commissioner for Human Rights for the Council of Europe.
This letter was addressed to the Minister for Migration of the Netherlands, Eric Van Der Burg. “It is our highest priority to provide safe conditions,” states Eric Van Der Burg in his reply to the European Council. He reassures the Council that refugees will be able to access shelter, food, drinking water, and sanitation at the Dutch facilities.
The Council of Europe made clear through the letter that the Dutch government should “prevent discriminatory treatment” when accommodating immigrants.
“To mitigate the risk of difference in treatment, we are working to ensure that the entitlements of the different groups seeking protection in the Netherlands are more aligned,” claimed the Minister of Migration for The Netherlands regarding the cases of discrimination.
The recent case of the infant who died on the 26th of August, in Ter Apel because no medical aid was provided left a mark of the discrimination happening in the shelters. The conclusion of the public prosecution of the case found no criminal offense that led to the death of the baby, leaving no one to blame.
But the chaos has not been diminished. ASKV, a non-governmental association that helps asylum seekers without legal documentation to enter and find shelter in The Netherlands is very confused about the current situation.
While talking to Petra Schultz, the coordinator assistant of the board of ASKV, she felt at unease about how immigrants are supposed to leave the emergency shelters like Ter Apel and find permanent facilities. “It’s chaos, and the government is not really helping us,” she stated while accentuating the general state of disorientation.
“The Netherlands cannot do this in isolation,” wrote the Dutch Minister for Migration at the end of his reply, calling for European support to further handle this situation.