Around the increasingly busy registration center in Ter Apel, there is a fear that next summer people will again have to sleep outside. At the same time, there are many concerns in the Groningen village itself about a group of nuisance-causing asylum seekers. “We are close to despair.”
“Theft is not punished here”, says a banner on the square in front of the HEMA. A little further on, at the police station in the Groningen village, there is a banner with “112, taxi azc”.
“The residents, shopkeepers and staff are close to despair,” says Marco Visscher. He is a councilor for Gemeentebelangen Westerwolde, the largest party in the municipal council. And that entire city council sounded the alarm earlier this week in response to a recent incident. “The measure is more than full”, wrote the Council.
It concerns a resident of the azc who was arrested for public defamation and an incident in the local Jumbo in which a group of men caused a restless situation. The police also confirm that these incidents have taken place. The Public Prosecution Service (OM) reported on Friday that the arrested man will not be prosecuted because, despite the “inappropriate and shocking behaviour”, he had no sexual motive.
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‘It’s only going to get worse’
“It’s been going on for a year or two and it’s only getting worse,” says Visscher. According to him, it concerns a group of about two hundred nuisance people. It is mainly asylum seekers who have a very small chance of being allowed to stay in the Netherlands.
“It is becoming more dangerous for our residents and for well-intentioned asylum seekers,” said the councilor. Because, according to him, the incidents involving nuisance asylum seekers ensure that some people also look differently at the rest of the AZC residents.
For example, a group of residents has united in a so-called vigilante group. The neighborhood watch organized via an app group are also the people who hung the banners. “If anything, they fly to it. They’re not trained to de-escalate. That’s very dangerous. And yet I totally get it.”
Ter Apel is filling up again
At the same time, Ter Apel is looking at the coming period with uncertainty. Last summer, people spent weeks lying outside in the grass of the azc, just outside the village. A year later, the reception crisis has still not been resolved. Prime Minister Mark Rutte even said that he cannot rule out the possibility that people will have to sleep outside again.
The Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) reported on Wednesday that it “is currently having great difficulty keeping the reception in Ter Apel below the agreed limit of two thousand people”. In the night from Monday to Tuesday, 33 people had to spend the night on chairs and mattresses in the application center. It was for the first time since last summer that the situation was so dire again.
The “waiting room” in Assen announced on Wednesday should provide some relief. New asylum seekers can go there when Ter Apel is full. But new shelters are still needed and few municipalities are eager to open shelters.
State Secretary Eric van der Burg (Asylum) wrote in a Wednesday Letter to parliament that if necessary they will put people in hotels without being asked. His distribution law, which should ensure that the reception places are better distributed among municipalities, is still on the table after many political hurdles.
Sober shelter should provide relief
In the same letter to Parliament, Van der Burg also points out that support for the reception is suffering from asylum seekers who cause a lot of nuisance. A special reception location is therefore being set up at the azc in Ter Apel: the process availability location (PBL). People are taken care of there who are unlikely to be allowed to stay. Not only is their asylum application processed more quickly, they must also always be available for their procedure.
Visscher is looking forward to the arrival of this austere shelter. “This prevents people from entering the village when the shops are open. That gives a lot more peace, we expect.”
In addition, he hopes that the nuisance-causing asylum seekers will not only be received in Ter Apel. “We have about two hundred nuisance asylum seekers and 342 municipalities. If almost every municipality were to take over someone, the nuisance would be manageable.”