Many residents stay in emergency reception places for months, even if they are not fit for reception lasting more than a week. Asylum seeker centers and emergency reception spaces of the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) are full, municipalities organize these types of spaces.
The IGJ visited nine crisis emergency reception points, which are organized by municipalities. There, “significant deficiencies” were identified. They pose “urgent risks” to the health of asylum seekers.
Among other things, the study found that there was only emergency medical care and no deferred care. This becomes an issue as asylum seekers stay longer. As a result, people with diabetes, for example, wait longer for help. Additionally, in many cases there is no digital patient file.
Children in places do not receive care. As a result, they do not receive vaccinations against diseases such as mumps, measles, rubella, diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus and polio. People can also spread infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and scabies because, for example, it is difficult to keep latrines and sinks clean if people stay for more than a week.
Due to the high risk of infectious diseases and the lag in the field of vaccinations, the possibility of transmission among the Dutch population is high, the researcher warns.
The IGJ makes recommendations to address the situation
The IGJ notes that the living conditions and long-term uncertainty cause not only physical problems but also stress for those living in those places. “Everyone agrees that the overcrowded emergency shelter is not suitable for long-term living there. But due to the circumstances (asylum crisis, lack of staff in the health sector), this cannot be prevented yet.”
The inspector hopes to address deficiencies in care and reduce risks to residents’ health in the short term. For example, the IGJ recommends that people undergo medical examinations upon arrival at a place.
In addition, care beyond emergency medical care should be available, and residents’ patient files should be kept digitally. Vulnerable people should stay in emergency shelters for as short a time as possible. Living conditions in general should become better and healthier.
The Inspectorate’s recommendations are intended for the Ministry of Justice and Security, COA, GGDs and municipalities.
‘Municipalities do stinking good’
According to the Association of Dutch Municipalities (VNG), municipalities are “doing everything they can” to ensure that “everyday business” is organized in emergency shelters. Through this they provide enough food to the citizens.
“This is crisis shelter,” VNG insists. This means that municipalities try to organize the most basic things. There is less room for improvement in other areas, for example in the care and health sector. The spokesperson said that the municipalities are actively carrying out the work.
VNG thinks it can also provide a solution called the Law of Distribution. This should ensure that asylum seekers are evenly distributed across municipalities.
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