About 80% of asylum seekers do not leave Belgium after they have been ordered to
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    About 80% of asylum seekers do not leave Belgium after they have been ordered to

    Of the 7,399 people who left Belgium, some did so voluntarily, others under duress. Credit: Belga

    Of the 33,386 people who were ordered to leave Belgium last year, only 7,399 (about 20%) effectively did, according to new figures.

    Anyone whose asylum application in Belgium was not approved, has to leave the country. However, roughly 80% of rejected asylum seekers stay in the country, according to figures figured by VRT. Of the 7,399 people who left Belgium, some did so voluntarily, others under duress. The others stayed in the country, or left without the Immigration Department’s knowledge.

    “People often ignore the order to leave the country,” said Maggie De Block, federal Minister for Asylum and Migration, in the Radio 1 programme De Ochtend. “We see that in other countries too, they do not return voluntarily. That is why we have to put them in closed centres first,” she added.

    However, the capacity of those closed centres needs to be increased, according to the Minister. “An additional 446 places are still being created, but there have to be more centres. We would add more places, to reach at least 1,100. That’s double of what we have now,” she added.

    Additionally, she wants to focus more on the voluntary return process. “But that requires good relations with the countries of return, which we also have to work on. We do not want a double circuit for illegal people. Voluntary return if possible, forced if necessary,” De Block said.

    Maïthé Chini
    The Brussels Times