As the asylum seekers in the Netherlands grapple with extreme overcrowding and shortages of shelter, they are forced to resort to sitting on chairs and sleeping on the floors of the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) waiting rooms, sometimes even during the daytime. This dire situation prompted Refugee Work Netherlands to call for the assistance of the Red Cross.
Red Cross Steps In
The Red Cross has responded by setting up a tent equipped with mobile showers and providing extra blankets, air mattresses, toiletries, and hygiene packages. Volunteers have also been mobilized to distribute these essential items in Ter Apel.
Rhodia Maas, the Director of IND, recognizes that the waiting rooms are not suitable for shelter and there is an urgent need for additional accommodation locations to prevent the asylum procedure from stalling any further. While the help from the Red Cross is appreciated, she emphasizes that it is not a sustainable solution to the ongoing crisis.
Reflecting a Global Issue
Similar issues have been observed internationally. In Ireland, due to a 'severe shortage' of emergency housing options, the Department of Integration warned that incoming asylum seekers might be left to find their own accommodation. This has resulted in the Government approving higher payments to those they cannot accommodate, amidst the expected accommodation shortfall in the coming days.
In Canada, refugees make up 40 per cent of Toronto's shelter spaces, yet hundreds are turned away each day as temperatures drop. In the US, a surge in migrant arrivals at the southern border is stretching humanitarian resources to breaking point, pushing asylum seekers to increasingly remote parts of the border.
As winter approaches, cities are scrambling to house asylum-seekers. In Chicago, despite a partnership with religious leaders to house 400 migrants in churches, more than 1,000 are still living at police stations or the city's busiest airport, O'Hare International.
These situations underscore the urgent need for governments, non-profit organizations, and the international community to come together to address the global refugee crisis. While temporary measures like tents and additional payments are helpful, they are not sustainable solutions.