On Friday, August 26, as the charity organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) deployed a team to help with migrant patients' medical requirements, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said he was "ashamed" of issues at the nation's center for processing asylum requests.
The problems at the Ter Apel center, where hundreds of asylum seekers have been sleeping on the streets in recent weeks, were addressed by several steps that his government outlined.
However, Rutte stated during a news conference that the issues "cannot be handled in a few weeks or months."
According to the MSF emergency coordinator at the shelter, MSF, also known as Doctors Without Borders, has never worked in the Netherlands, a prosperous member of the European Union. MSF is mostly engaged in underdeveloped developing countries.
"The asylum-seekers here live in deplorable, squalid conditions," stated Monique Nagelkerke.
Rutte claimed that a 2015 decision to lower the number of asylum seekers allowed as well as a national housing deficit was exacerbating the issue.
He told reporters, "I believe it's unfortunate that MSF feels compelled to jump in at Ter Apel. I think everyone in the Netherlands thinks that.
His cabinet announced plans on Friday to reach a deadline of September 10 to shelter new immigrants at the center, including working with the Defense Ministry to open a second registration location on that date.
Additionally, it said that it will take short-term measures to stop the "inflow" of migrants, such as stopping the acceptance of 1,000 asylum seekers annually as stipulated in a 2016 agreement between the European Union and Turkey. Additionally, it will stop granting visas to relatives of those who do not have a place to live in the Netherlands.
MSF arrived after this week's death of a 3-month-old baby at the Ter Apel shelter, which sparked concern across the globe.
According to Leon Veldt, a spokesman for the Dutch Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers, the infant passed away in a gym that was being used as a temporary refuge for new arrivals at the shelter who had nowhere else to sleep. The cause of the infant's death is now unknown.
Motaz Mohammed, 25, who is from Yemen and has been sleeping outside the center for 11 days, through both a heat wave and thunderstorms, said, "We are stuck, we don't know where to go."
Only the guards want to speak with us, and they excuse themselves and tell us to wait.
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