Belgium’s Week in Brief: Firemen set fires, Operation heatwave, and anti-vax warnings
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Belgium’s Week in Brief: Firemen set fires, Operation heatwave, and anti-vax warnings

Saturday, 22 June 2019

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Belgium’s most wanted list led to a well-mannered arrest in the park, a report shows antivaccination is more prevalent in Belgium than was expected, Firemen set fires across the city, Lithuanian Irish pub owners were told to go back to Ireland… and that’s just some of the national news that happened in Belgium this week.

With that said, here’s a recap of the stories that set the agenda in Belgium this week, gained the most attention, or just shouldn’t be missed.

1. Operation Heatwave launched to prepare Belgium for soaring temperatures

With temperatures across Belgium expected to soar to the high thirties as the first heatwave of the year hits the country next week, Flanders and Brussels announced the launch of “Operation Heatwave”, aimed particularly at supporting the city’s most fragile populations.

Special brigades will visit residents of the city thought to be in vulnerable situations —the elderly, isolated people— in order to check in on them and to brief them on the good habits to adopt during the heatwave. Read more.

2. ‘Xenophobic’ comments hit debutant news anchor on first day on the job

On her first day on the job, a Belgian news anchor on Thursday received an onslaught of “virulent” comments and reactions that have been qualified as racist and which have since been condemned by her employer. One of them reportedly asked whether it was possible to “let a Belgian read the news in Belgium.” RTL has condemned the comments. Read more.

3. Belgium’s most wanted caught in a Brussels park (while walking his dog)

An escaped murderer on Belgium’s Most Wanted list was arrested by special police forces in a park of a Brussels municipality on Tuesday. Grzegorz Janowicz, 39, was walking his dog in Duden park, in the municipality of Forest, when he was caught off guard as he sat down on a bench an opened a can of beer. He reportedly did not resist the arrest. Read more.

4. Photos: Brussels firemen set fire to the city

Yes, you did read that correctly. See the photos here.

5. ‘Grandparents for climate’ march in Brussels, picking up where the youth left off

In a protest echoing the Youth for Climate marches, Grandparents for Climate will pick up where the students left off as they take to the streets of Brussels on Thursday to demand action for climate change. The demonstrators hope to catch the attention of the Belgian and international leaders, who will gather in Brussels on Thursday for a European Union summit in which leaders are expected to discuss climate change, amongst other subjects. Read more

6. Lithuanian Irish pub owners told to learn Dutch or ‘go back to Ireland’

A Lithuanian couple who owns an Irish pub in the Flemish town of Aalst received a postcard telling them to learn Dutch or “go back to Ireland,” according to reports on Tuesday. The postcard, sent from the coastal Flemish municipality of Ostend, then goes on to suggest the couple “consult” the far-right Vlaams Belang party and that they “return to Ireland.” Read more.

7. Stillness in the heart of the city: thousands join in on Brussels Yoga Day

Thousands of people gathered on Sunday in Brussels’ Parc du Cinquantenaire, located between some of the city’s major roads, to take part in a collective yoga class in the sixth edition of Brussels Yoga Day. Read more here.

8. Spanish venue crowned the best restaurant in Brussels region

For the second year running, Brussels (1000) boasts a restaurant selected as the best gastronomical venue of the Brussels-Capital Region, topping the list of the 2019 edition of the Delta restaurant guide, for which it is set to receive an honorary prize on Monday evening.

9. One-fifth of Belgians do not think vaccines are safe

A new global survey has found that 21% of Belgians do not think vaccines are safe, placing it alongside Iceland, Austria, and Switzerland as a country wary of vaccines. Pooled from a worldwide survey, the study also found that high-income regions are less likely to believe vaccines are safe than low-income regions. Read more. 

10. Search for missing Belgian backpacker to be suspended over the weekend

Australian police have decided to temporarily halt search operations for missing Belgian backpacker Théo Hayez after a week of efforts yielded no results, local authorities announced Friday.

makeshift campsite found on Thursday near a Byron Bay lighthouse, where Hayez’s phone records led the search party last week, offered no substantial clues. The search will be suspended from Saturday, said Matt Kehoe, lead inspector in the case. Read more. 

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