The first asylum seekers have taken up residence in a new temporary reception centre set up at the former army barracks in Berlaar and operated by the Flemish Red Cross.
The centre will eventually provide places for 750 asylum seekers, but initially only 100 will be accommodated. The remaining slots will gradually be made available to persons who have registered for international protection at the Klein Kasteeltje application center in Brussels.
In the meantime, two sheds have been equipped with furniture, a kitchen, refectory and a relaxation area. On Monday, a bus brought the first 20 residents to the center. Two more buses will follow later this week. The first inhabitants will mainly be single men.
The opening of the reception centre in Berlaar is among measures taken by the Council of Ministers on 6 July to reduce the pressure on the reception network: increasing capacity, reducing the influx and accelerating the outflow from reception places.
“Fedasil has been struggling for months with a major shortage of reception places and is therefore forced to make choices: priority is given to families, unaccompanied minors and vulnerable persons,” the organization said in a press release. “As a result, dozens of single men camped at the Klein Kasteeltje. This created a difficult humanitarian situation, despite the support of local NGOs.”
This weekend, 89 campers were temporarily accommodated in a Samusocial (humanitarian emergency service) building in Anderlecht.
The Fedasil reception network now has more than 31,000 reception places in almost 90 collective centres (federal, Red Cross, private…) as well as individual reception places managed by Public Social Service Centres (CPAS) and associations.
Fedasil is constantly looking for new places to guarantee the reception of people who come to seek protection in Belgium.