Netherlands investigates infant's death at overcrowded asylum seeker centre

FILE PHOTO: Refugees wait outdoors on the damp ground at the main reception centre for asylum seekers, in Ter Apel, Netherlands August 17, 2022. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw/File Photo

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch authorities are investigating the death of a 3-month-old baby at the country's overcrowded main registration location for asylum seekers, the government's Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers said on Thursday.

More than 700 asylum seekers have been sleeping outdoors at the location at Ter Apel in the northeast province of Groningen in the past few days. Conditions in the shelter have already prompted a lawsuit against the Dutch state.

The baby died from "unknown causes" in a sports gymnasium being used as a makeshift shelter for newcomers with nowhere else to sleep, Leon Veldt, a spokesman for the agency, told Reuters.

Conditions at the main reception centre have prompted the Dutch branch of international aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) to offer aid, the first time it has needed to in the Netherlands, the organisation said on Thursday.

The Dutch Council for Refugees, which has filed a suit against the government, says conditions in the centre are "inhumane" and violate European law.

The council's suit, which is due to be heard on Sept. 15, demands improved conditions by Oct. 1, including access to clean water, showers, privacy, adequate food and healthcare.

(Reporting by Anthony Deutsch and Stephanie van den Berg; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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