Belgium boosts processing capacity for Ukraine refugees

Belgium boosts processing capacity for Ukraine refugees
Thousands of Ukrainian refugees have registered at Palais 8 over the past few days.

More than 3,700 Ukrainian refugees have registered at the Palais 8 event venue in Heysel, north Brussels, since it opened its doors to Ukrainian refugees in Hall 8 on Monday. On the first day, over 1,500 people were registered.

Combined with the 6,050 who had registered at the Jules Bordet centre, a total of nearly 10,000 Ukrainians have registered in Brussels so far. This centre, a former hospital, has struggled to cope with the influx of arrivals from Ukraine and there had been reports of people queuing overnight with little success in registering.

887 applications were filed registrations were processed at the centre last Friday but the new Heysel centre will increase processing capacity significantly.

More efficient processing

"In the morning, there are a lot of people," spokesperson of the Immigration Office Dominique Ernould said. "But yesterday there was no one left when we closed the doors."

"We were able to check everyone in," she continued. "On Monday evening, there were a few people we couldn't take. We close the doors at 17:30 but we work till 19:30 to register people inside." There are currently 42 counters, with room to add more if necessary.

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Belgium’s Secretary for Asylum and Migration Sammy Mahdi announced the opening of the new registration centre in Heysel last week. Before that, more than a thousand refugees stood in line every day at the former, temporary registration centre for Ukrainians near the Brussels Halle Gate.

The new registration centre at Palais 8 ought to speed up the registering process, as Mahdi said the new centre has the capacity of registering 5,000 daily.

Mahdi tweeted that 1,300 to 1,400 people were registered on Tuesday evening, with around 450 more to go. “There is a small lack of shelter for 200 people, and 24 extra counters will be added in the next few days,” the State Secretary wrote.

On Tuesday, 200 asylum applications were filed at refugee arrival centre Klein Kasteeltje. Since the beginning of last week, there have also been long queues of non-Ukrainian refugees.

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