The Belgian Foreign Office launched a Facebook campaign on Tuesday intended to slow down the influx of secondary migrants from Afghanistan to Belgium.
In particular, the campaign aims to dissuade Afghans who have already submitted asylum applications in other EU countries but who also intend to make an application in Belgium. According to European rules, asylum seekers who have already started an asylum process in one Member State must complete their application in this country. If they try to apply to other states concurrently, they will be sent back to the country of their original application.
In practice, this is one of the factors that feed the people trafficking networks across the continent: migrants are often reluctant to submit applications in the Member States on Europe's geographic border where they first arrive, and so try to reach more affluent nations, evading authorities in their journey across Europe.
"Those who already have an asylum procedure in another European country must wait for the result in this nation," Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration Sammy Mahdi (CD&V) pointed out on Tuesday.
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Figures for September show that more than 3000 Afghans have sought asylum in Belgium. Of these, over 700 applications are from those who have already passed through other European nations.
"Those looking for protection and fleeing war should be able to find shelter, but in Europe, you can't just seek asylum anywhere – we want to make sure that everyone is aware of the rules in place. It is completely non-sensical to have individuals and families wandering all over Europe. If an asylum application is already ongoing in the country of [European] arrival, the procedure must be completed in that country," Mahdi concluded.
The Brussels Times