Guardians of unaccompanied minors face payment suspension due to budget issues
The 660 guardians of unaccompanied foreign minors in Belgium received a letter from the Federal Public Service (FPS) Justice last week informing them that they will no longer be paid for the time being, La Dernière Heure reported on Tuesday.
The letter reads: "We would like to inform you that the budget allocated to the guardianship service for the year 2023 has been exhausted. As a result, we are currently unable to pay your various allowances (flat-rate and administrative allowances, travel expenses, etc.). This also applies to interpreters' bills. We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience this situation may cause."
The letter goes on to say that payments may resume in early December, but the guardians are sceptical. "The money has simply run out and they do not know when they will pay us," says Jean Danis, co-president of the French-speaking guardians' association.
"The money has simply run out and they do not know when they will pay us"
Never before have so many unaccompanied minors arrived in Belgium. It is estimated that there are currently more than 3,000. "If there is no more money, there will be no more guardians, so there will be no monitoring of the unaccompanied minors, who will be left to their fate on the streets," says Danis.
On Sunday, Belgium's Justice minister, Paul Van Tigchelt, announced that up to 400 unaccompanied minors will have the prospect of a guardian thanks to the recruitment of 15 employed guardians, 10 of whom will work in Flemish welfare centres.
Minors who arrive in Belgium without parents or representatives are entitled to a guardian. There are several types of guardians: voluntary guardians, self-employed guardians who work as a main or secondary occupation, and employed guardians who have an employment contract with an association, such as social services or NGOs. There are currently 660 active guardians with a total of 3,776 guardianship cases.
Justice minister Paul Van Tigchelt © BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK