Nearly 1,600 people met on Sunday morning in Antwerp for the seventh edition of the Refugee Walk.
Together, they raised more than 300,000 euros, the Flemish association Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen which organised the march confirmed.
The event is held for the first time in Antwerp. Some 600 people set off early in the morning to cover the longest distance, 40 km. They will be followed by participants in the 20 and 10 km routes. The objective, in addition to collecting donations, is to send a signal of solidarity to people fleeing their country.
“Estimated at more than 100 million, they are now more numerous than ever and hope for the support and hospitality of other countries,” the director of the association, Tine Claus, said. "In Belgium, the reception of migrants continues to deteriorate, after a year of crisis.”
“Access to reception (centres) and the right to asylum was refused to thousands of people last year, it is particularly alarming. Our governments can remedy this situation if they collaborate,” Claus added.
The Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen association offers a first line of reception for migrants, as well as legal advice and training.
“Emergency reception is a priority to get these people off the streets,” Claus emphasises.