Emergency shelter provided for 140 asylum seekers of the Petit Château

Emergency shelter provided for 140 asylum seekers of the Petit Château
Belgium's reception crisis has resulted in thousands of asylum seekers being left in the cold. Credit: Belga / Laurie Dieffembacq

The Citizens’ Platform, Samusocial and the Red Cross are opening an emergency 140-place centre in Anderlecht on Wednesday, the organisations announced in a joint statement. The centre will be for those who have been living outside of the Petit Château; some who have been there for a week and others for months.

About 150 people evacuated last Wednesday from the squat in rue des Palais in Schaerbeek joined the fifty or so exiles who have been living on the bridge linking the Boulevard du Neuvième de ligne to the Quai des Charbonnages in Molenbeek for several months.

A volunteer, Yan Verhoeven, spoke about the police intervention on the last day of the evacuation: "The police were present in large numbers to supervise the evacuation but, at around 16:00, they simply pushed the former inhabitants back to the bottom of the rue des Palais." Without any information on what was going to happen next, the people then headed for the Petit Château, "a place they know," recalled Verhoeven.

Left mattresses and blankets behind

Many of the ex-residents of the so-called Schaerbeek squat "left their mattresses and blankets in the Rue des Palais, because they had been promised that they would be rehoused", he commented. Solidarity was then organised between citizens' organisations and local residents, who provided tents and blankets.

While the Molenbeek authorities and the Brussels-Capital Region, with the support of the Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration Nicole De Moor, announced on Monday that they were looking for an urgent solution, the three associations have implemented a gradual reception, over three days, to “allow these people to sleep in warmth and in dignified conditions.”

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“These people are taken in for a few days before being directed to a reception centre run by Fedasil (the federal agency for the reception of asylum seekers), which we hope will have the capacity to quickly rehouse all of the international protection seekers evacuated from the camp,” the three organisations stressed.

The centre, located in an Anderlecht building, is coordinated by the Citizen’s Platform for Day-to-Day Management. The Samusocial provides staff to manage the infrastructure and provide logistical support. Finally, a Red Cross team provides medical follow-up, as some people have been affected by their stay on the streets.

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