During the last year, 53 special charter flights took place to repatriate 283 undocumented immigrants, who had committed crimes, back to their country of origin. This is reported by Het Laatste Nieuws and De Morgen on Friday. The Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration, Theo Francken (New Flemish Alliance) had announced his intention, at the beginning of 2017, to organise four flights of this type per month.
The special flights were organised for individuals who could not be repatriated on regular flights, because they were violent, refused to leave or had a substantial criminal record. In 2016, 39 flights with a total of 201 undocumented immigrants with criminal records aboard were organised, and the previous year there were 25 flights containing a total of 154 such individuals.
Frontex, the European border agency, is paying 80% of the costs of these repatriations. Member states can group together repatriation flights for undocumented immigrants who have committed crimes. Belgium, generally speaking, has responsibility for such special flights to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Guinea. It also regularly participates in flights to Albania, Afghanistan and Nigeria.