‘Quality of crisis emergency reception locations depends on the political color of the municipality’

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‘It strongly depends on the political leanings of a municipality how good the quality of the healthcare and living conditions are in emergency reception centers for asylum seekers.’ This is what Sam van Vliet, advocacy manager at Dokters van de Wereld, says in response to the conclusions of the Health Care and Youth Inspectorate (IGJ) about the quality of health care and living conditions after visiting nine crisis emergency reception locations.

Big differences

The IGJ established last week that there are major differences between crisis emergency reception locations where asylum seekers are received. The crisis emergency reception locations are managed by the municipalities, which are also responsible for basic facilities, such as healthcare (unlike the emergency reception locations, which are managed by the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers). According to the IGJ, the quality of healthcare is not up to par everywhere and this poses urgent medical risks for individual asylum seekers and for public health. The risks identified by the IGJ are partly caused by the fact that the locations are actually suitable for reception of a maximum of one week, but the asylum seekers have now been staying there for months to six months.

Doctors of the World

‘The conclusions of the IGJ are a confirmation of what we ourselves have been observing for months,’ says Van Vliet. Together with the Red Cross and Pharos, a national center of expertise in the field of health inequalities, Doctors of the World started its own investigation about health care and living conditions in the crisis emergency shelters about a month and a half ago. Van Vliet: ‘There are about a hundred locations – the number varies because locations are added or closed all the time. Together, about eight to ten thousand people are taken care of. In crisis emergency reception locations, we submit surveys to the residents about the quality of the reception and healthcare. It is still a little too early to publish the results, but we see a similar picture to that outlined by the IGJ. It is possible that we only see the tip of the iceberg, because we visit about ten crisis emergency shelters. In practice, it turns out to be difficult to visit crisis emergency reception locations for our research – it is difficult to obtain official permission to access the locations. What we see is that there are major differences between the quality of the locations. It is very unfair that it just depends on where you end up whether you get good care or not. And that it depends on the political color of a municipality. In our view, the more right-wing municipalities are doing less well.’

Huge task

‘The municipalities row with the belts they have. It is a huge task to organize crisis emergency shelter and find the employees for it, “says a spokesperson for the Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG). He acknowledges that there are major differences in the quality of healthcare. ‘But I have no data on how big those differences are or what causes them. I also cannot answer the question of whether it has anything to do with the political color of municipalities, because we have no data on that.’

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