A dozen people were detained by police during evictions carried out in and around a park near Brussels’ Gare du Nord, marking a stricter approach by authorities to otherwise routine evictions from the site.
The arrests were made as part of a larger removal of those staying in and around Parc Maximilien, where homeless people and undocumented migrants have been staying over the past months.
Those arrested were placed in administrative detention after residents complained that some of the park’s inhabitants came to wash or to dwell near the entrance halls of their buildings, according to Bruzz.
While it is not the first time police carry out evictions in the park and its surrounding areas this summer, the arrests came as a surprise to members of aid groups active in the area.
“It’s not happened for a long time, and it’s particularly surprising that it happened at the end of the summer” Mehdi Kassou, a spokesperson with a citizen refugee aid group told the outlet.
Several aid organisations have expressed concerns over the increasing number of people living in the area, with the citizen aid group placing it at at least 150 on any given day.
That number swells to up to 500 if those who are staying in social housing but who come to the park during the day are also counted, according to Bruzz.
Several evictions have been made in the area in past months, including a major one in May which saw hundreds expelled from a hall in Gare du Nord where they had been living in for months.
The recent evictions underscore years of deadlocked talks with federal authorities regarding the creation of a migrant reception centre, which the new government of the Brussels-Capital Region has said it will continue to push for.