amsterdam – Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has started providing medical care to hundreds of people stranded outside the main Dutch reception center for asylum seekers in Ter Apel, in the northeast of the Netherlands. MSF is calling on the Dutch government to urgently provide access to medical care and improve conditions for people forced to sleep outside the overcrowded centre.
Last Friday, an MSF team carried out an assessment of the situation outside the Ter Apel reception centre, which is the first point of entry for refugees into the Netherlands. The center is completely overwhelmed and unable to meet the most basic needs of newcomers.
“This is the first time that MSF has provided medical assistance in the Netherlands. We cannot stand idly by and do nothing in the face of this increasingly inhumane and unacceptable situation on our doorstep,” says Judith Sargentini, director of MSF Netherlands. “However, our intervention is a palliative measure.”
Among those living in a field outside the facility in inhumane and undignified conditions were pregnant women, children, and people with chronic illnesses (such as diabetes), some of whom no longer had medications. There are no showers on site and the very few toilets available are not sufficiently maintained. Tents and makeshift shelters have been removed and people are sleeping on the ground, exposed to the weather.