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Investigation after baby dies in 'inhumane' conditions at Dutch asylum centre

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By AFP  with Euronews
MSF says it is now providing medical and psychological care to asylum seekers outside the Ter Apel centre.
MSF says it is now providing medical and psychological care to asylum seekers outside the Ter Apel centre.   -   Copyright  VINCENT JANNINK / ANP / AFP   -  

Dutch authorities have launched an investigation after a three-month-old child died at the country's main centre for asylum seekers.

NGOs claim the baby had been living in an overcrowded shelter facility near Groningen and was kept in "inhumane conditions."

"Inspectors from the youth services and the Ministry of Justice are investigating the death of the child, which occurred at a sports hall that serves as an emergency shelter," the Dutch Justice Ministry said on Wednesday.

"At the moment, not much is known about the death of the baby, but the first aid given could not revive the child."

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said they had deployed to the Ter Apel centre on Thursday for the first time to provide unprecedented "medical care."

"The living conditions there are inhumane and need to be improved immediately," MSF said on Twitter.

The humanitarian organisation urged the government to "act quickly" and "not leave people stranded at the gates of Ter Apel" in the meantime. 

The Dutch Refugee Council has previously sued the government over the central asylum centre, claiming that up to 700 people have been sleeping outdoors at the facility.

According to experts, the arrival of asylum seekers has coincided with a housing shortage in the Netherlands.

Dutch authorities moved around 150 migrants to two sports halls in the central city of Apeldoorn on Thursday night.

The mayor of Groningen, Koen Schuiling, has called on other Dutch cities to help alleviate overcrowding at Ter Apel and welcome refugees.

"We have reached a sad level in our country," Schuiling said.

Residents of the small eastern town of Albergen have been protesting for days against plans by the Dutch refugee agency to house up to 300 migrants at a local hotel. 

Demonstrators say the town is too small to house hundreds of asylum seekers.