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    Office for Foreigners can’t handle family reunions

    © Arno Urb, Arno Mikkor/Flickr
    © Arno Urb, Arno Mikkor/Flickr

    The Office for Foreigners (OfF) in Brussels, which deals with asylum requests from migrants, has admitted it is unable to deal with the number of requests from family members wishing to be re-united. Under international treaties, a member of a family who has been granted asylum may be reunited with other members of their family, other conditions being met. A man admitted to Belgium as an asylum-seeker, for example, may bring in his wife and children on the basis of his asylum status.

    However OfF has admitted it is so swamped by original asylum requests it is unable to process the many requests it receives from family members who are the first for arrive in the country. In many cases, one member of the family from countries such as Syria makes the journey here in the first place, applies for asylum status and then sends for the rest of the family on that basis.

    However the sheer number of such initial applicants makes it impossible, according to a report in Knack magazine, to carry out correct checks on supposed family members. Cases from 2015-2016 are still being processed, while family reunion cases from those applicants are even more delayed. In some cases, applicants are being ruched through despite being false and, in some cases, concerning people who are wanted by the police in one or other country.

    Quoted by the magazine, a spokesperson for asylum minister Theo Francken said the new system still had to be evaluated in action. His office declined to comment on the overwork of the Office for Foreigners.

    Alan Hope
    The Brussels Times