Undocumented migrants occupy empty hotel in Saint Josse

Undocumented migrants occupy empty hotel in Saint Josse

A group that has been carrying out the “solidarity requisitioning” of empty buildings since the start of the coronavirus pandemic says it has taken over an empty building in Saint Josse, in Brussels, Belga news agency reports.

Police officers sent on Sunday to the building at 312 Rue Royale, found some 50 people there, mostly from African countries, organised by a collective, Brussels-North police spokesperson Audrey Dereymaeker said.

The police were able to see that the occupation had been under way for more than 24 hours, which ruled out any intervention by the law enforcers.

The building’s proprietor will be informed of the occupation. He can then take legal action with a view to the expulsion of the squatters, Belga explained.

The occupants, led by a collective calling itself the “Undocumented Volunteers of Brussels,” hope to be able to sign a precarious occupation agreement with the proprietor so that undocumented migrants or people who are simply homeless can stay in the empty building pending its reassignment.

The building, a former hotel, has been empty for over a year, according to its occupiers, who also said no planning-permit application had been filed for it. The collective also said it had contacted the communal authorities.

“We’ve been in Brussels for years,” a spokesman for the collective said in a press release. “Our reality is being undocumented persons, repressed by the police, forced to live on the street or crammed into unsuitable, overly expensive housing, or overcrowded shelters,” the spokesman added.

“The public authorities refuse to provide us with indispensable solutions, beginning with regularisation, which prevents us from working legally,” he said.

This is the fourth “solidarity requisitioning” currently in progress in the Brussels region, Belga reports.

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