The Secretary of State for Asylum and Immigration, Theo Francken, on Monday challenged the “intellectually dishonest” assertions of the human rights organisation, Amnesty International (“Amnesty”). Amnesty is currently saying that Belgium has far from respected its commitment to relocating asylum seekers from Greece and Italy.
Relocation is the transfer of people from one EU member state to another given member state, in cases where such people need international protection.
At the height of the migrant arrivals in Europe, the Council of the EU had set relocation targets from Greece and Italy. The number of people to accommodate under this mechanism was assessed at 160,000 at that time
Yet Amnesty advances that collectively member states only reached 28.7% of this target which was fixed for this month. Theo Francken challenges this assertion. He states it turned out that the number of people meeting the criteria for relocation from these two southern European states did not amount to 160,000.
In particular he mentioned that the EU-Turkey agreement, concluded in March 2016, enabled the reduction in migrant arrivals. He then conducted a review of the global commitment of European countries. These countries had in fact agreed a commitment revolving around relocation of a little over 98,000 refugees. Mr Francken highlighted on Monday in his personal blog, “I cannot relocate people who have never arrived in Italy and Greece.”
The European Commission says that as at September 4th, more than 27,695 people (approximately 19,244 from Greece and 8,451 from Italy) had been relocated in Europe. Some 2,800 people were still requiring relocation from Greece and around 7,000 from Italy. Amongst those who have actually arrived in these two states up to now, the Secretary of State considers that “Belgium has taken its fair share.”