Belgium in Brief: A boiling point in the refugee crisis

Belgium in Brief: A boiling point in the refugee crisis
Credi:t Belga

For months now, people have been sleeping on the streets instead of receiving the shelter that they are entitled to, as a result of Belgium's system for receiving asylum seekers and refugees being completely saturated.

This week, however, the situation has come to a boiling point.

On Thursday, around 150 refugees camped outside the closed gates of the Brussels' reception centre Klein Kasteeltje (Petit Chateau), with long lines of people sleeping on the floor painting a dire picture of the situation.

Following complaints by locals, the police moved the entrance to the front of the building near the canal, but this only resulted in the centre being closed as staff no longer had a separate entrance to guarantee their safety.

"The main reason we could not open yesterday was because it just was not safe for the staff to carry out the intakes at the entrance, it was pure chaos here. Organisationally, this was just not possible," one Fedasil employee told The Brussels Times.

While State Secretary for Asylum and Migration Nicole de Moor said that what happened on Thursday "cannot be repeated" and the doors must be reopened, she has been called on to create more capacity to provide shelter.

"The house is currently on fire and must first be extinguished before you can start rebuilding it," said Thomas Willekens of Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen (Refugee Work Flanders). "First, give shelter to everyone who is entitled to it."

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