On Sunday, Bruges authorities said they were worried about the Minister Council’s choice of eight communes to host more asylum seekers in the near future. Zeebrugge is among them, and it will take in 300 people.
Bruges mayor Renaat Landuyt (sp.a) and CPAS president Dirk Defauw reacted on Sunday. They claimed they “didn’t want to shirk their responsibilities” with regards to the housing problem. They said they were unhappy the federal authorities did not involve them in looking for housing solutions. “Federal authorities found a housing solution at the Knapen station at Zeebrugge, but the existing buildings are totally unsuitable for housing asylum seekers. Because of this, we will have to work with modular units”, the mayor and the CPAS president have said.
They also said they were worried about the possible arrival of people traffickers. “Housing asylum seekers near Bruges port is dangerous. They could fall into the hands of people traffickers, who would promise them a good price on crossing into Great Britain”.
On the coast, Ostende will also take in 100 extra asylum seekers, federal authorities have decided. On Sunday, John Vande Lanotte (sp.a), the mayor of Ostende, said it would be a number “proportional to the local population”, and an “acceptable” number. He added that the new arrivals would be housed in individually rented accommodation. Contrary to other towns, Ostende said it was satisfied with communication on the case. “I had to ask for a meeting with the State Secretary for Immigration and Asylum, Theo Francken, but I got one”, says Johan Vande Lanotte.
Mr Lanotte also said he agreed with other mayors on the coast, who said they had to take in too many asylum seekers. He said it was time to “work more efficiently on a repartition plan”. “Here, we are very aware that asylum seekers are still looking for a way to get to Great Britain. Recently, 60 asylum seekers arrived, thinking they had got to Calais”.
Sarah Johansson (Source: Belga)