The refugees who spent 144 hours in Erasmus Sport buildings last week have already moved twice since then. A group of under-age asylum seekers are now housed in a crisis centre in Vijfhuizen near Haarlem. Later this week they will be sent back to Ter Apel, where they stayed when they first entered the Netherlands.

According to the 17 year old Syrian national referred to as ‘A’, who met with Erasmus students at a meeting of The New University last week, his group left for Hellendoorn on Thursday morning. The minors were put up in a sports complex. “We really liked it there. We could eat and drink whenever we wanted and volunteers came to the complex every day to organise activities with us. There was table-top football and a Playstation and a group of about 15 Turkish-Dutch people regularly came by to play football. I really made a lot of friends there”, said A.

However, after 72 hours the travelling circus was moved in the direction of the Randstad. A is now housed in a crisis relief facility in Vijfhuizen. According to A, the accommodations, based in the main hall of Expo Haarlemmermeer, are fine. “I can sleep comfortably here and the surrounding area is very nice.

Brief hunger strike

In spite of the friendly reception and good quality care, some refugees are dissatisfied. The primary reason for this is the lack of clarity regarding their future. On Sunday morning 20 of them were fed up with the situation. “A group of twenty of us decided to stop eating until we were given some clarity about our destination”, said A. Each time, the refugees are only informed at the last minute about their next destination. And once again, they can only stay 72 hours at the new destination.

However, the hunger strike ended on Monday morning because they now had clear information: the group will return to Ter Apel. By then they will have travelled a total of 800 kilometres in the Netherlands. “We’re returning on Tuesday or Wednesday. Our asylum applications will be initiated in Ter Apel and we’ll receive a medical check-up and X-rays.”