Europe

Iraqi refugees arrested in Hague tent camp eviction

The camp in The Hague is cleared
Image caption The refugees said that being sent back to Iraq was too risky

Dozens of Iraqi refugees have been forcibly removed from a camp in the Netherlands.

The refugees, whose asylum claims were rejected, had lost their legal battle to remain in tents outside the central railway station in The Hague.

Police moved in to evict those who refused to leave and 28 people were arrested, all of whom were later freed.

Some of the refugees had chained themselves together to prevent the camp from being broken up.

Asked by BBC News where the refugees had gone, Dutch police spokesman Wim Hoonhout said: 'I don't know, they have gone to other places, but they cannot go back to the camp, the camp is also gone."

'Aggressive tactics'

The camp had been in place for almost three months, housing more than 50 people in an area of parkland near the station.

The city authorities had argued the tents should be removed because of the potential health risks during winter and a Hague court turned down a last-ditch appeal against the eviction on Wednesday.

As police moved in to empty the camp during the afternoon, the refugees chanted protest songs and refused to leave, the BBC's Anna Holligan reports.

"No man, no woman is illegal," they chanted.

Our correspondent estimated that at least 100 police were at the scene. Some were on horseback.

Demonstrators at the site accused officers of adopting aggressive tactics.

They used special equipment to slice through the chains and metal tubes the refugees were using to bind themselves together.

Those arrested were 21 failed asylum-seekers and seven sympathisers.

The Iraqis who had been staying at the camp no longer had valid visas for the Netherlands but said that returning to their home country was too risky.

The Dutch government said individual assessments were made in each case, based on evidence from local agencies and its own embassy in Baghdad.

They cannot be deported back to their home country because Iraq refuses to accept forced returnees.

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