Asylum seekers at Rue de la Loi evicted by police on Friday morning

Asylum seekers at Rue de la Loi evicted by police on Friday morning
The police expels the inhabitants of the 'Toc Toc Nicole' building at the Rue de la Loi / Wetstraat 91, in Brussels, on Friday 20 October 2023. Credit: Belga / Lou Lampaert

The remaining twenty or so asylum seekers living in an occupied building on Rue de la Loi in Brussels were evicted by the police at around 06:00 on Friday.

The occupation, named "Toc-toc Nicole" (in reference to the Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration Nicole de Moor) by the "Stop the Reception Crisis" collective, had been scheduled to be evacuated on 20 October following an eviction notice sent to the occupants.

By 06:00, police vehicles, a drone flying overhead, a few members of the “Stop the Reception Crisis” association, and occupants trickling out of the building, sleeping bags or rucksacks in hand, could be seen at 91 Rue de la Loi.

"They arrived around 06:00, with their torches and I was still asleep. They just told us to clear off. But now I have nowhere to stay," one occupant told Belga.

Many of the evicted asylum seekers have nowhere to go. Credit: Belga / Lou Lampaert

On 19 October, the building was evacuated at around midday. Around forty of the seventy asylum seekers still present were temporarily rehoused in hotel rooms paid for by the Atenor estate agency, which owns the building on Rue de la Loi. Atenor will pay a monthly sum of €30,000 for four months.

According to Atenor, a census of the people living in the building was carried out a few days ago, and at that time there were 40 occupants. As information circulated, other people returned to the building.

On Thursday, around 70 occupants were present in the premises, which created tensions. At around 14:00 on Thursday, the 40 occupants previously recorded boarded the bus bound for the hotel. More than twenty people remained at 91 Rue de la Loi, before being evacuated on Friday morning by the police.

"This eviction once again highlights the situation of asylum seekers left on the streets by the state, while the regional and federal authorities, who were asked to find solutions, refused to listen", lamented Alexia, spokesperson for the collective.

Back on the street

As a result, on Thursday, some of the occupiers were rehoused by the building's owner. The remaining twenty or so people have no alternative accommodation for the time being. "The asylum seekers evicted today find themselves back on the street, faced with state violence and despite international law", explained Vi, a member of the collective who was present on Friday, to Belga.

"We are faced with a crying lack of vision and political courage", added Claude, another member of the collective.

Credit: Belga / Lou Lampaert

"The precariousness in which the people concerned are forced to live has serious consequences, particularly psychological. It also has a wider impact, with a saturation of emergency services, an increase in homelessness and so on. Many of those without housing are also in administrative limbo or awaiting regularisation, and are totally invisible. We need to tackle the problem systemically and stop discriminating between different types of profile", he added.

Some time ago, the occupants were forced by a judge to leave the building, after Nicole De Moor (CD&V) and Fedasil were ruled to be responsible for running the building. From Friday, the police were able to evict the occupants from the premises.

At around 07:30, some occupants were still on the pavement opposite 91 Rue de la Loi, waiting for somewhere to go, before police officers asked them to leave.

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