As of today, 3,000 asylum seekers are still without a housing solution, the director of Belgium's state asylum service Fedasil Fanny François told Le Soir in an assessment published on Saturday.
On the question of whether the crisis will soon be resolved, François was blunt in her response "there are still people on our waiting list" – in total some 3,000 people although the agency's director expects that number to fall in the coming weeks as a result of the measures put in place.
Yet she stressed that “Not all of these people will be entitled to reception” as some will have already received a negative decision from the Office of the Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons.
“Three thousand is therefore a maximum estimate and not all are ‘on the street’. Several hundred are accommodated by the Brussels region under an agreement that finances 1,200 and soon 1,500 places,” François continued.
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François acknowledged the need for more reception spaces but also said that other measures will have an impact on the number of places actually required. “If other measures are not effective, we will have to create more permanent places... We really need to see more departures from the centres and work on the length of the application procedure.”
Belgium reduced the capacity of its reception centres after the major influxes of 2014/15 subsided. But in recent years it has been overwhelmed by a new wave of applicants for asylum, with many forced to fend for themselves in makeshift camps or squats.
Unable to fulfil its legal obligation to shelter asylum seekers, and repeatedly accused by civil organisations of dragging its feet on the issue and aggravating the situation, the Belgian State has incurred nearly €280 million in penalty payments for failing to deal with the problem.