Associations appeal against asylum policy for single men

Eight associations have filed a petition with the Council of State against the decision by Belgium's secretary of state for Asylum and Migration, Nicole de Moor, to temporarily suspend the reception of single men applying for asylum.

"This measure is unlawful in several respects. The Secretary of State undoubtedly knows this," said lawyer Jean Marc Picard in a statement published on Wednesday. He said the case would be heard next week.

The associations include the Order of French- and German-Speaking Bars and refugee support body Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen.

De Moor (CD&V, Flemish Christian democrats) announced last week that single men would be temporarily denied shelter in the Fedasil network. Despite criticism from other parties in the coalition, the government decided on Friday to maintain the order until additional shelters are created.

In an op-ed by De Moor for De Standaard, she defended her stance, saying: "Only cooperation with North Africa can reduce the flow of refugees."

"The flow of people who are not fleeing violence or persecution needs to be reduced if we are to regain more control and offer protection to those who are genuinely fleeing persecution"

She referred to what she deems to be a failed policy agreement between the UK and Rwanda, under which some asylum seekers would be forcibly sent to Rwanda and prevented from seeking asylum in the UK. The UK's Court of Appeal ruled in June that the policy was unlawful.

"London has already paid £140 million to Rwanda, the only country so far willing to get involved in such a story," De Moor wrote. "But do you know how many asylum seekers the British have actually sent to Rwanda? Zero. And even if they were to succeed, in practice, it would mean handing the whole policy over to those countries, leaving them out of your control."

De Moor called her policy an "uncomfortable truth" and said she aimed to "regain control" over the immigration situation. "It is clear that the flow of people who are not fleeing violence or persecution needs to be reduced if we are to regain more control and offer protection to those who are genuinely fleeing persecution," she said. "The European Migration Pact is a crucial step in this direction."

She added that she intends to work on this policy during Belgium's presidency of the EU in 2024.



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