Netherlands: MSF provides medical care to stranded asylum seekers | Doctors Without Borders

People face an increasingly inhumane situation, limited medical care at the Ter Apel reception center

NEW YORK/AMSTERDAM, AUGUST 25, 2022—Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) today began providing medical care to hundreds of people stranded outside the main Dutch reception center for asylum seekers in Ter Apel. There are currently around 700 people sleeping outside the reception center as it is completely overwhelmed and unable to meet the most basic needs of new arrivals, which has already led to serious medical emergencies.

Last Friday, an MSF team carried out an assessment of the situation outside the reception centre. Among those living in a field outside the facility in inhumane and disgraceful conditions are pregnant women, children, and people with chronic conditions like diabetes who may run out of medicine. There are no showers on site and the very few toilets available are not sufficiently maintained, which could lead to the spread of disease or cause other health problems. MSF has seen people with skin diseases, upper respiratory tract infections, urinary tract infections, diarrhea and vomiting, mental health issues, dental issues and injuries in various states of recovery .

The Dutch government must urgently provide access to medical care and improve conditions for people forced to sleep outside the overcrowded centre, MSF said.

“We cannot stand idly by and do nothing about this increasingly inhumane and unacceptable situation on our doorstep,” said Judith Sargentini, MSF Netherlands director. “The Dutch government and local municipalities must urgently improve living conditions and take responsibility for providing medical care to vulnerable people. In addition, there must be a structural solution, such as the creation of multiple and more human reception areas. This is something the Dutch government has been called upon to do for years.

For several years, it has been difficult for new asylum seekers to find shelter. Since June, it has become even more difficult. While asylum seekers who are allowed to stay in the Netherlands struggle to find their own accommodation, many remain in the reception centre, leaving fewer places for new arrivals.

After consultation with the relevant authorities and the Red Cross, MSF dispatched a medical team to immediately provide basic health care to people from Ter Apel seeking asylum in the Netherlands, most of whom are from the Middle East and Africa. This team will treat illnesses and injuries, ensure people with chronic illnesses can continue to take their medications, triage cases that need to be referred to a hospital or health center, and provide psychological first aid to adults. and to children.

This is the first time that MSF has provided medical assistance in the Netherlands.