Unfair treatment: Different registration fees depending on commune for Ukraine refugees

Ukrainians registering in Brussels pay more in certain municipalities than in others, while some of the city’s communes don't charge a fee at all, a survey by Bruzz shows.

Unlike other refugees, Ukrainians arriving in Brussels immediately receive temporary protection, including their first papers when registering in Heysel Palace 8. These allow them to register in a municipality.

But all communes are not equal: a family of five will easily pay over €75 to register in Ganshoren, while the first provisional registration is free in Ixelles and Anderlecht.

Etterbeek and Anderlecht decided to no longer charge the provisional registration costs to Ukrainian refugees. “When this war broke out, we were told that Ukrainians would receive a one-year protection status. We immediately decided to drop the extra registration costs for them,”  Anderlecht alderman Fabienne Miroir said.

Discrimination?

Last week, State Secretary for Asylum and Migration Sammy Mahdi stated that “only taking in Ukrainian refugees is illegal” in response to a far-right proposal to temporarily suspend the asylum applications of all non-Ukrainians to make space for Ukrainian refugees.

Mahdi advises against distinguishing between refugees with regard to the cost of registration. “Every refugee is equal, regardless of nationality,” his spokeswoman said.

Free for everyone

Other municipalities also acknowledge the unfairness of having different rules for different refugees. In response, Ixelles mayor Christos Doulkeridis revoked the provisional registration for everyone: "Refugees arrive with barely any money or possessions, it seems logical to make registration free for all."

In Saint-Gilles, the provisional registration was already free for all refugees, the only cost being €23 for an electronic card. Mayor Charles Picqué would like to make this free for Ukrainian refugees but spoke of the need for a harmonised city-wide approach: "There must be unity, otherwise it is unfair."

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In Koekelberg and Schaerbeek, no distinction is made between refugees and the costs are relatively low at €8 per registration without any additional costs.

€75 to register

On the other hand, in Ganshoren it costs €25.50 to open a file for a family, plus €10.20 for each family member. A family of five therefore pays over €75 to register in the municipality. A Ganshoren spokesperson said that this applies to all refugees, including Ukrainians, to avoid discrimination.

“If it were up to me, I’d be happy to show a little more humanity,” alderman for Social Cohesion Marina Dehing-Van den Broeck said. “We could make an arrangement with the OCMW (public centre for social welfare) to pay the costs only when the parents receive a living wage. But all this depends on the Federal Government. We have not yet received the green light for this.”

Wallonia wants to move forward

Wallonia wants to move towards a single permit for migrants “without delay”, regardless of their nationality, so they have access to the labour market, Walloon Employment Minister Christie Morreale said on Tuesday when questioned by deputy Manu Disabatoe on the agenda of the Interministerial Conference (IMC) of Migration.

Mahdie stated that the files of migrants are already being treated as priorities and that the single permit for migrants can only be considered in a second stage, Morreale stated. “I will ask, however, that the subject be addressed and that we can move forward without delay,” he added.

“This question is a priority, as there are sectors in short supply and thousands of migrants with qualifications. It is not acceptable to leave things as they are for an ideological position,” Disaboto concluded.


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