Reception crisis to become a Federal Government priority

Reception crisis to become a Federal Government priority
Tents in front of the Petit Chateau in 2023. Credit: Belga / Laurie Dieffembacq

The reception crisis will be the top priority of the political agenda in Belgium in the coming weeks, as it finally decided to, for the first time, make it a government issue, reports De Tijd.

Years of controversy, legal action and people living on the streets have caused the degradation of Belgium's reputation both domestically and internationally over its failure to take control of its reception crisis.

The hope is to reach an agreement on proposals by State Secretary for Asylum and Migration Nicole de Moor to slow down the influx of people and speed up the outflow.

For over a year, Fedasil centres have not had the capacity to accommodate all asylum seekers, even though they are protected by international law through the entitlement to shelter. The most visible point of the reception crisis is along the canal in Molenbeek, where around 110 tents are set up for homeless asylum seekers waiting for a spot in a reception centre.

Held in a headlock

The package of proposals by de Moor has caused deep divisions within the governing coalition.

The ministers proposed to make places in Fedasil available only to people who are in an asylum procedure, which should open 1,000 places. The proposal's implication is that people who still have procedures, such as those for family reunification or regularisation, should seek shelter elsewhere.

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As for the Green parties, the entire situation is already challenging them on how to justify to their voters. Tightening any rules of the reception was out of the question for them as long as no solutions are given for those already living in dire circumstances, such as the people who were in Rue des Palais in Schaerbeek.

The Liberal parties bucked against the proposal to automatically grant residence rights to parents of refugee children and stateless people. The situation has been held in a headlock, which De Croo hopes to untangle during the next two weeks.

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