Belgium calls for stronger European return approach amid refugee reception crisis
During a meeting with the new EU Return Coordinator Mari Juritsch on Friday morning, Belgian State Secretary for Asylum and Migration Nicole de Moor (CD&V, Flemish Christian Democrats) called for a stronger European approach regarding the return of asylum seekers. The country has been struggling with a severe shortage of reception places for asylum seekers for several months now.
In March, the European Union appointed a Return Coordinator to ensure an effective and common European return system. Mari Juritsch aims to raise return rates in partnership with member states.
"We must join forces at the European level against countries that consistently refuse to readmit their citizens"
On Friday morning, Juritsch met with Belgian State Secretary De Moor, who also strongly supports a common European approach. "Return of people in illegal residence is still too often obstructed by uncooperative countries of origin. We must join forces at the European level against countries that consistently refuse to readmit their citizens. We can have more weight at the European level than with Belgium alone," says De Moor.
In recent weeks, De Moor has been facing increasingly loud criticism because of Belgium's persistent reception crisis. Last week, the country's agency for the reception of asylum seekers Fedasil had to refuse families with children due to the lack of reception places. Earlier that same week, some 20 unaccompanied minors whose age was questioned by Fedasil were also denied shelter.
To address the reception crisis, De Moor recently announced a Winter Plan that mentions more reception places, additional staff and increased outflow. The state secretary is now turning to the European Union's new Return Coordinator to accomplish the latter part of her plan. In addition to a European return approach, she remains committed to bilateral cooperation with countries of origin.
A mother and daughter waiting in front of the 'Little Castle' Fedasil registration centre for asylum seekers in Brussels, Belgium. Last week, Fedasil had to refuse families with children due to the lack of reception places © BELGA PHOTO HATIM KAGHAT