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European RoyalsThe Netherlands

King Willem-Alexander visits asylum seeker camp

willem-alexander

King Willem-Alexander travelled to the German border to visit the Ter Apel centre for asylum seekers. 

His Majesty arrived in the small town in the northeast of the country on Wednesday, 31 August, accompanied by the Secretary of State of Justice and Security. The pair started their visit by meeting staff members at the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers. 

They then met with local police, border patrol agents and immigration forces, who told the two authorities about the processes that are in place to identify and register asylum seekers that arrive in the Netherlands, as well as how their work interacts with other forces working within the camp. 

The third group of workers to get a visit from the King and the Secretary was composed of staff members from the many NGOs that operate within the camp, including the Dutch Red Cross, Doctors without Borders and the Netherlands Council for Refugees. 

Members of these three groups spoke about their difficulties in housing and caring for all the refugees that arrive in the camp because of the lack of space to offer adequate treatment and accommodations. 

It was then time for the refugees themselves to have a say in these meetings, with many telling the King about their arduous journeys to get to the Netherlands looking for a more hopeful future. 

The final meeting was with local authorities, including the Mayor of Westerwolde, who spoke about the impact that the camp has on local social and economic infrastructures, as well as the coordination efforts between all parties involved to operate the camp as efficiently as possible. 

King Willem-Alexander is currently recovering from pneumonia, which will prevent him from attending the economic mission/work visit that would have taken him to California and Texas in the US. His doctors have advised him to avoid air travel, although they allowed him to move within Dutch borders. He will not be undertaking air travel until he’s fully recovered, and his agenda will probably be scaled down. 

The Ter Apel Refugee Camp is the biggest structure of this kind in the country and is currently hosting refugees and asylum seekers from a variety of countries. It was the main centre to welcome Ukrainian refugees, although their numbers have been steadily declining, as many of them have made the choice to move back to their home country and help out as they can. 

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