Belgium will house 750 asylum seekers in military barracks to relieve overburdened system

Belgium will make an additional 750 emergency places available to asylum seekers in former military barracks in the Antwerp municipality of Berlaar. In the past month, the country has come under fire for their handling of asylum seeker reception centres.

The Belgian federal agency for the reception of asylum seekers Fedasil has even reported a rise in the number of suicide attempts in these facilities owing to overcrowding. As a result, the government agreed to take steps to relieve the overburdened asylum system. The Defence Department will provide 750 emergency places in Berlaar in different military barracks and, in the long term, 750 places will be made available in temporary container villages. It is still unclear whether this planned container village will also be built in the Antwerp municipality.

Additionally, a reception centre in Zaventem, the so-called “Dublin” centre, will be able to hold 220 places for asylum seekers. These individuals are registered elsewhere in the European Union and must return there to have their applications processed under European rules.

This is the first major action of newly elected State Secretary for Asylum and Migration Nicole de Moor. Her predecessor Sammy Mahdi, who was just become the new CD&V (Flemish Christian-democrats) leader, was heavily criticised for his handling of the asylum network in recent weeks.

Mahdi was found to have consistently violated asylum seekers’ right to reception by the French-speaking Brussels Labour Court, before the case was dismissed.

Now, de Moor appears to have found a solution to this over-saturation: extra emergency accommodation. “We are working hard on all solutions,” she told Flemish paper De Tijd. Adding that “not only on reception but also return to other EU countries, including the centre in Zaventem, and better outflow from the reception network.”



Asylum seekers waiting outside at the 'Klein Kasteeltje' Fedasil registration centre in Brussels © BELGA PHOTO NOE ZIMMER

Get updates in your mailbox

By clicking "Subscribe" I confirm I have read and agree to the Privacy Policy.


Belga News Agency delivers dependable, rapid and high-quality information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from Belgium and abroad to all Belgian media. The information covers all sectors, from politics, economics and finance to social affairs, sports and culture, not to mention entertainment and lifestyle.

Every day, our journalists and press photographers produce hundreds of photos and news stories, dozens of online information items, plus audio and video bulletins, all in both national languages. Since the end of March 2022 English has been added as a language.

For public institutions, businesses and various organisations that need reliable information, Belga News Agency also offers a comprehensive range of corporate services to meet all their communication needs.


Arduinkaai 29 1000 Brussels