More than 100,000 people sought protection in Belgium last year
It was all hands on deck for Belgium's asylum services in 2022. Not only did the number of people applying for international protection rise by more than 40 per cent to 36,871, but 63,000 more requested temporary protection from the war in Ukraine. Furthermore, "we should not expect a break in this trend soon", state secretary for Asylum and Migration Nicole de Moor predicted when presenting the statistics for 2022.
All in all, Belgium received more than 100,000 requests for asylum last year. This influx put the reception system under pressure, despite the creation of a record number of places. Given the ongoing war in Ukraine and the many conflicts elsewhere, there is nothing to suggest that migration pressure towards Europe will ease in the coming year.
"It is not only our legal but also our moral duty to offer protection to those fleeing war and persecution," de Moor stressed. But "without structural reforms, our system cannot withstand a large influx of people seeking protection".
De Moor is spearheading an initial reforms package to achieve a better-controlled migration policy, including measures to update the Reception Act, adjust the rules on family reunification and legally enshrine an active return policy. The state secretary is also working on integrating Belgium's migration services and will continue to work at the European level for more solidarity among member states and better screening at Europe's external borders.
© BELGA PHOTO LAURIE DIEFFEMBACQ