The Steenokkerzeel administrative centre for migrants in transit, which was opened in September 2018, has been closed down.
The closure of the migrant centre, just outside Brussels, has been confirmed by the office of the Interior Minister Pieter De Crem.
Forty of Steenokkerzeel’s 120 beds were reserved for migrants in transit detained throughout Belgium.
But this idea, the brain child of Belgium’s former Interior Minister Jan Jambon and Secretary of state Theo Francken, rapidly proved to be impracticable as the centre was very often empty.
According to the Foreign Office, the police do not have enough men to handle transfers to the centre that were in any case taking up too much time and resources.
In most police zones, detained migrants are simply taken to the nearest centre rather. Police unions are also complaining about the working conditions and security at Steenokkerzeel’s centre.
Minister De Crem and his colleague in charge of Asylum and Migration Maggie de Block therefore took the decision to close the centre down.
According to Pieter De Crem, the emphasis is now “on a more mobile and effective intervention against human traffickers” as well as on major planned operations against transitory migration.
The Brussels Times