Smooth start on first day of temporary application centre for asylum seekers

The new, temporary registration centre for asylum seekers in the Finance Tower in Brussels was packed this morning, but everything went smoothly. A little after 8 a.m., volunteer organisation 'Serve the City' had distributed more than 300 cups of coffee and police chief Michel Goovaerts, who came to the centre, also noted that everything went smoothly.

Since today, registration of asylum seekers no longer takes place in 'Klein Kasteeltje', where chaotic scenes regularly took place in recent weeks. After a turbulent morning, Fedasil staff stopped work last Tuesday. It was then decided to cancel the registrations in 'Klein Kasteeltje' and to only allow the allocation of reception places there. Asylum seekers who want to registrate have to go to the Finance Tower in the centre of Brussels.

"Together with the police, we worked hard on Friday and last weekend to get everything ready here," says Freddy Roosemont, Director-General of the Immigration Department.

The queues were set up in a funnel shape to avoid the pushing and shoving that was a regular occurrence in 'Klein Kasteeltje'.

When the centre opened at 8.30 a.m., everything remained calm and the asylum seekers entered one by one.The queue of families and vulnerable people, which numbered just under 100, was already empty 15 minutes after the opening.

"It does indeed seem that people have found their way here," said Nathan Torrini of Serve the City. "Our job here is to ease any tensions a bit, by offering breakfast and providing information."

It remains to be seen how many people can sign up each day. In 'Klein Kasteeltje' there were over 250, but Roosemont points out that they have more space in Pacheco, so there could be more. The registration centre in Avenue Pacheco is a temporary solution, pending a more permanent registration centre. It is not yet known where and when this will be.

The Netherlands

Not only Belgium is struggling with the registration and flow of asylum seekers. Also in the Netherlands, asylum seekers have been sleeping on the streets for weeks. Because of the housing shortage, those with a permit stay in asylum seekers' centres too long. ​

In the Dutch application centre Ter Apel, people have been sleeping outside for days due to a shortage of accommodation. For the first time in history, the international aid organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) even took action and went to Ter Apel with a team to provide care to asylum seekers who had to stay outside the gate.

In order to solve the ongoing problem, the Dutch government will allocate 730 million euro in the coming years to combat the reception crisis, such as emergency accommodation, flexible housing, integration and dealing with troublemakers. In addition, municipalities in the Netherlands are prepared to make 20,000 houses available for asylum seekers with residence permits in the coming months.


© BELGA PHOTO ERIC LALMAND - Asylum seekers wait outside the headquarters of the Fedasil Federal Agency For The Reception Of Asylum Seekers in Brussels, where the registration of asylum seekers will happen from today onwards, Monday 29 August 2022. The Fedasil reception center Klein Kasteeltje - Petit Chateau has been over capacity for weeks, resulting in long waiting lines and people sleeping int the streets.

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