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Emergency accommodation for third-country nationals in Groningen

​The temporary accommodation location for third-country nationals will be in the Willem Lodewijk van Nassaukazerne (Barracks) in Zoutkamp (Municipality of Het Hogeland). Minister Ank Bijleveld of Defence made the location available.

State Secretary Ankie Broekers-Knol of Justice and Security stated this today in a letter to the House of Representatives. The Willem Lodewijk van Nassaukazerne has been made ready and is operational today, Friday, 20 March 2020. Staff of Defence, the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) and the Ministry of Justice and Security have worked hard on this. In the emergency accommodation location, third-country nationals are offered accommodation and necessary facilities.

Protection against corona
The application centre in Ter Apel has been closed since Monday, 16 March. Third-country nationals who arrive in the Netherlands to apply for asylum no longer have access to asylum procedures and reception by the COA, as the asylum procedure has been suspended because of the corona virus. The government has taken these additional measures to protect the staff of the organisations involved and the residence of asylum seekers' centres against infection.

Asylum procedure suspended
Because the asylum procedure has been suspended in any case up to and including 6 April, the registration of third-country nationals has been limited to what is necessary, such as taking fingerprints and on that basis searching the Dutch and European systems, frisking, searching luggage and taking possession of documents. This process is carried out in the application centre in Ter Apel by the Aliens Police, Identification and Human Trafficking Division (AVIM). Prior to this a medical screening takes place. This is conducted by the Joint Health Service (GGD) and Asylum Seeker Healthcare (GZA), during which the generic guidelines of the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) to combat the corona virus are observed.

From Ter Apel to the emergency accommodation location
After the registration the third-country nationals are taken by bus to the barracks. "We offer this emergency accommodation location for humanitarian reasons", said State Secretary Ankie Broekers-Knol in a response. In order to avoid all risks as far as possible, third-countries may not freely leave the barracks. Care and support are organised at the location itself. Departure from the barracks takes place with escort.

Other measures
In addition to the opening of the emergency accommodation location, additional measures have applied since Monday, 16 March that affect the cooperating organisations within the asylum system. For instance all incoming and outgoing Dublin transfers have been suspended in any case up to and including 6 April, as other EU Member States are doing. The administrative process regarding the Dublin procedure will however be continued as far as possible.

Third-country nationals whose asylum applications have been rejected will also remain in the COA location. The border procedure will remain applicable to persons who submit an asylum application at the external border (usually at Schiphol). With the exception of families and children, third-country nationals will first be placed in border detention. The duration of the border procedure is four weeks at most for the IND, so that it will be clear after the procedure whether persons have been infected with the corona virus.

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