Dutch court orders government to improve asylum centres
A Dutch court ordered the government on Thursday to improve conditions at overcrowded migration centres where asylum seekers have been staying in unsanitary conditions.
The case was brought by the Dutch Council for Refugees on human rights grounds after a crisis this year which saw hundreds of migrants forced to sleep outdoors while their claims were processed.
“The State… has the obligation to receive asylum seekers in a dignified manner,” a judge at The Hague District Court said.
Current conditions at the Ter Apel centre near the northern city of Groningen, where more than 700 people spent weeks sleeping rough outside the gates this summer, and other locations “do not meet those standards in parts.”
The ruling noted that “repeatedly” at the Ter Apel camp people had “slept outside, or inside on the floor or on chairs and without sufficient hygienic sanitary facilities”.
The head of the Dutch Council for Refugees, Frank Candel, said in a statement that it was a “clear and necessary decision”.
But he added that the group “will not be happy until no asylum-seeker has to sleep in a tent, sports hal. or hallway any more”.
Medical charity Medecins Sans Frontiers deployed to the centre this summer after a three-month old baby died there from unknown causes, and aid agencies warned of a looming humanitarian emergency.
The court said the government now had to ensure that all people at migrant centres had a “safe covered sleeping place, food, water and access to hygienic sanitary facilities.”
“Some standards must be met immediately, others within the shortest possible reasonable time,” the court said.
There was no immediate reaction from the Dutch government.