Dutch authorities investigate death of a baby in asylum center

Dutch health authorities are investigating the death of a 3-month old baby in a reception center for asylum seekers, the country’s Health and Youth Care Inspectorate announced Wednesday.

Health authorities said the baby died Wednesday morning in a “gym that serves as an emergency shelter for asylum seekers,” in the village of Ter Apel in the east of the country.

The inspectorate said in a statement that they did not have much information on the death of the baby. It added that it is investigating “all possible aspects that may have played a role in the death of the baby,” including the medical cause, whether care was previously provided, and the conditions at the center. “Unfortunately, medical help was of no help,” the agency stated.

The incident elicited numerous reactions from Dutch politicians. Members of parliament Kati Piri (Labor) and Suzanne Kröger (GroenLinks) have called on State Secretary Eric van der Burg, in charge of asylum and migration, to issue a letter to clarify the circumstances surrounding the event. Member of parliament Jasper van Dijk from the Socialist Party submitted a request for a parliamentary debate on the issue. 

The Dutch government is being sued by the Dutch Council for Refugees over the conditions at its centers for asylum reception, which the organization deems as inhumane. The group filed a summary proceedings against the government on August 17.

They say that the reception locations are “not suitable for habitation,” and lack “the most basic conditions such as privacy, sufficiently clean sanitary facilities, beds, enough and decent food and protection against weather conditions.” The lawsuit is expected to be heard at the district court of The Hague on September 15.