Overcrowded Belgian asylum centres cause more and more people to sleep on the streets

Overcrowded Belgian asylum centres are causing more and more people to sleep on the streets, which has already led to 1,200 convictions for Fedasil this year. At the same time, Médecins Sans Frontières claims that unaccompanied minors are abandoned to their fate, which is not true says the spokesperson of the state secretary for Asylum and Migration Nicole De Moor (CD&V). 

Due to the overcrowded Belgian asylum centres, more and more people are sleeping on the streets, Het Laatste Nieuws writes on Monday. Fedasil, the agency that regulates the asylum reception, is legally obliged to give every asylum seeker bed, bath and bread until his or her file has been processed. Because it cannot always fulfil this obligation, the agency has already been convicted at least 1,216 times since this year, confirms spokesman Benoit Mansy. And this figure is still rising every day.

Penalty payments

In return for the convictions, the federal government has been ordered to pay penalty payments of up to 5,000 euro per day, which it has appealed. The cabinet of state secretary Nicole de Moor points out that the current policy is to avoid penalty payments at all costs.

Belgium has a total of 30,500 reception places. The federal government decided in early July to free up 750 additional places in emergency accommodation, but these too will be taken up quickly. "We see that migration to Europe is increasing again," said Dirk Van den Bulck, head of the Office of the Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons (CGRS). "It is striking that Belgium is currently more popular than most other EU countries."

Unaccompanies minors

In the meantime, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) reported to BRUZZ that more than 50 unaccompanied minors have been living on the streets since a temporary reception centre for young people in the centre of Brussels was closed in mid-July. ​ The reception centre, which was run by MSF and its partners Burgerplatform, SOS Jeunes and Caritas, gave shelter and accommodation to 250 young people. 

MSF now says that of the almost 80 minors that were taken in in July, only 29 have found emergency shelter. According to MSF, the remaining young people, about 50, have ended up on the streets. 

False accusations

The cabinet of the competent state secretary for Asylum and Migration Nicole De Moor reacts indignantly to the accusations of MSF.

"MSF itself has indicated that it did not want to continue operating the site, for which the government had also made funds available," says spokeswoman Sieghild Lacoere. "All the young people who were housed there received an offer from Fedasil."
"It is not the case that we no longer receive unaccompanied minors," Lacoere adds. "The minors who report to Fedasil are always taken care of. However, there are minors who refuse a place to stay or who refuse to be registered. This is a very different situation from the one described by Médecins Sans Frontières."

Meanwhile, the number of unaccompanied minors continues to rise. In 2021, 3,219 underage foreigners filed an asylum application, compared to almost 1,800 in 2020, according to figures from the Office of the Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons earlier this year.




© BELGA PHOTO NIELS QUINTELIER - Illustration shows a protest action of the association Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen called Geen Mensen Op Straat, nobody sleeping in the street, Wednesday 24 November 2021.


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