“There is nothing new, it is the same old price,” said the Walloon Minister for Mobility and Transport on Monday, following the publication of an article in the Sudpresse press group on Saturday, which stated that TEC (public transport) prices were 50% lower for refugees. The TEC “price cut” offering day tickets for four euros to Walloon Red Cross and Fedasil centres has been applied for several years and is in fact far from covering costs for NGOs supporting asylum seekers.
Red Cross centres have been trying to cope with a historic wave of immigrants for the past few months. In order to allow refugees to follow official procedures necessary to legalise their status, NGOs supporting them pay for their public transport by buying tickets directly from public authorities.
At the request of the Red Cross, Fedasil, and Vluchtelingenwerk (Flemish Refugee Action), STIB and De Lijn have already put in place special fees for asylum seekers. In consequence, in Flanders refugees can use transport for all formalities with a ticket costing non-profits 40 euros annually (3.33 euros a month). But for years now the Red Cross has had to pay four euros a day in Wallonia.
Carlo Di Antonio, currently attending COP21 in Paris, says there is no change to be expected. “This is nothing new as the same fee has been in place for years. However we must now look at the issue more closely because of the increased influx of migrants.”
As for the Red Cross, they have been negotiating with public transport networks for a long time, unsuccessfully so far. It hs become impossible for Walloon refugee centres to offer public transport tickets to all migrants. They focus on helping those with urgent formalities, medical appointments, or in education.