For the past four months, over 50 failed asylum seekers have been living in a tent camp on a school ground in Amsterdam. The refugees from Africa and the Middle East had been living in government-run centres, but after their asylum requests were turned down by the authorities, most of them were sent to detention centres, awaiting deportation. Since their embassies would not or could not issue them passports, they could not be sent back to their countries of origin and were eventually turned out onto the streets.
Many of the asylum seekers lived for months, some even years, on the streets before arriving in the tent camp. They depend on donations from the neighbourhood and charitable organizations for food and clothing. But now that winter is arriving, the situation is becoming untenable.
The Hague wants them to return to their home countries as soon as possible, but many of the refugees fear that if they go back they will suffer persecution or worse. The mayor of Amsterdam has pledged that he will use only peaceful means to close the camp down. City officials have been negotiating with the refugees, so far without result.