Undocumented migrants occupy social housing building in Brussels

Undocumented migrants occupy social housing building in Brussels
"No documents = no rights." Credit: Belga

Around 70 undocumented migrants started to occupy a social housing complex in Brussels on Sunday, according to Belga News Agency.

The protestors had previously occupied the former KBC Bank building on Avenue du Port, which they turned into a “Zone neutral” (Neutral Zone) for undocumented people.

Following a 31 March notice to vacate the former KBC Bank site, some of the undocumented migrants relocated to a tent camp in Molenbeek, which was also vacated on 3 April. Now, protestors have occupied a social housing complex on Rue Rempart des Moines 56 to coordinate their efforts.

“This occupation of a temporary accommodation will serve as a first point of rescue for undocumented people locked in the shrouds of structural indignity,” the group announced.

For several year, the protestors have organised protests action against what is viewed as the unfair treatment of undocumented migrants. In 2021, activists went on hunger strike in the Beguinage church in central Brussels to protest Belgium’s migration policy.

Official neutral zone

Belgian Secretary of State for Migration Sammy Mahdi previously established a “neutral zone” for the protestors to receive information on their cases and migration status, but this has now been closed. The undocumented migrants and protestors are now advocating for a new Belgian migratory policy.

“Let us continue the struggle for undocumented migrants in Belgium and develop a solid framework outlining, by 2024, a regularisation for all undocumented migrants present on Belgian territory,” the statement read.

The undocumented migrants have called on the municipal authorities to officialise their occupation of the temporary occupation building, in order to “allow undocumented migrants a dignified life under all conditions.”

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The protestors are also seeking to open a new dialogue with the mayor of Brussels, Phillipe Close. According to the spokesperson, the protestors had already made contact with the Mayor and were planning a meeting in the near future.

The “Undocumented Volunteers of Brussels” collective has been squatting buildings across Brussels for use by undocumented migrants. In February, the activists took over an empty hotel building in Saint-Josse-ten-Noode.

In 2020, 11,495 individuals were found to be illegally present on the territory of Belgium. A total of 20,320 have been officially ordered to leave and 2,675 were repatriated in the same year, according to statistics from the European Migration Network.

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