A nine-year-old boy, Brahim Bakali, disappeared last Friday from the Immigration Office. The police had driven him there, having intercepted him the same day. He was subsequently found during the period from Sunday night to Monday morning on Boulevard Anspach, in the centre of Brussels. This was indicated on Monday by the Immigration Office. It claims that the little boy “escaped staff surveillance.”
Of Moroccan origin, and only speaking Arab, the child had been taken by the police on Friday morning to the Immigration Office. This is per the procedure in the case of intercepting an unaccompanied minor foreigner (known in French speaking Belgium as a “MENA”) who is residing illegally. Brahim Bakali had not yet had an asylum application submitted on his behalf.
Before disappearing, he found himself in a local Immigration Office, reserved for those with MENA status. Dominique Ernould, the spokeswoman for the Immigration Office, explained, “For an unknown reason, he escaped the surveillance of staff in the Immigration Office. He successfully fled at the beginning of the afternoon. His disappearance was not noticed immediately and therefore was only indicated subsequently to the police.” A meeting was held yesterday at the Immigration Office to determine exactly what had happened.
Child Focus had regretted, on Friday, the late announcement by the Immigration Office of the child’s disappearance. For the foundation, every hour counts. The Child Focus spokeswoman, Maryse Rolland, said, “Children with MENA status are particularly vulnerable children. Some are traumatised. Often they do not understand the language. There is also a risk that they fall into the hands of human traffickers.”
Brahim Bakali was scheduled to, once again, be transferred to the Immigration Office yesterday. Ms Ernould added, “He will be entrusted to the childcare authorities and then placed in a centre for those with MENA status. We will next consider whether there is an appropriate family for him to stay with in Belgium or Morocco, or indeed another EU country, before making the most appropriate decision for his protection.”
The Brussels Times