Some 2,063 persons applied for asylum in Belgium in February, the Minister for Asylum and Migration, Maggie De Block, indicated on Thursday. The applications were 25% fewer than in January, De Block said.
Palestinians continued to be the largest group of applicants for international protection. The number of requests from this group went down by 40%, from 426 in January to 257 in February. A dissuasion campaign by the Belgian Government, targeting Palestinians in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, was seen over 195,000 times by the target group, and new campaigns are being prepared by the Immigration Office.
Moreover, Palestinians no longer automatically receive refugee status.
Another significant development is that the number of Palestinians opting for voluntary return is on the increase.
Applications for protected status from nationals of Syria and Afghanistan stand at 200 to 300 per month.
While the total number of asylum requests has gone up since last summer and now averages about 2,000 per month, the increase is “controllable,” Minister De Block said, pointing to an action plan she had had adopted and the strengthening of the services in charge of asylum.