- Category: News
- Created on Friday, 18 May 2012 12:28
- Written by Amsterdam Herald
The camp outside the detention centre in Ter Apel, in the northern province of Groningen, is mainly populated by Iraqis who have been ordered to return to their homeland because it is deemed safe by the Dutch government. The refugees dispute this, saying they will be imprisoned or killed if they return.
Around 325 people are now living in tents outside the centre, all of whom have been refused asylum. The vast majority, some 225, are from Iraq, with another 80 from Somalia, 15 Iranians, two people from Eritrea and one from Azerbaijan.
Immigration minister Gerd Leers last week offered to accommodate the protesters for one week to allow them to prepare for a voluntary return, but the offer was rejected.
The refugees say they will only leave if the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) reviews their cases.
Leers has so far declined to give a timetable for removing the camp, but in a letter to Parliament this week he said the situation could not be sustained for long.
He said: ‘Actions of this kind cannot be the basis for changing asylum policy in general or towards a given country in particular.’
It is the second time in six months that asylum seekers have set up a tented camp outside the refugee centre after being refused permission to stay in the country.
In December Somalian asylum seekers spent three days camped outside the centre. They ended their protest after the IND agreed to let them reapply for asylum.