A long queue of asylum seekers formed Monday morning in front of the gate of the Petit Château in Brussels, the reception centre for applicants for international protection in Belgium which is managed by Fedasil, Belga News Agency reported.
According to Fedasil, there are still too few short-term places, and application procedures are too long. On Monday morning, 200 people were registered, but just as many were left outside when the centre closed its doors at 9:00.
Police arrived at the site to ask those in line to disperse and return Tuesday. According to migrant aid organisations present, dozens of people slept in the street in front of the centre over the weekend to get in on Monday.
Treatment of the asylum seekers
"Reception places were found last summer, but it is still not enough," Thomas Willekens, policy officer for Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen (Flemish Refugee Council), a non-profit organisation promoting the wellbeing of asylum seekers. "Today, it takes one to one and a half years to process a request, which means that the network is saturated."
Willekens posted on Twitter that 260 people were in line while more kept coming. He also said single men, about 160 of those seeking asylum, have the hardest time getting registered as well as getting accommodations while women, children and the sick are given priority.
"It is difficult for the people who want to ask for protection, but also for the people of Fedasil it is a painful exercise to make that selection every day and to inform the people that they have to come back," Benoit Mansy, spokesman of Fedasil, said.
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Fedasil said the Federal Government and the new Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration Nicole De Moor are trying to recruit more staff and create more reception places, but are still faced with a shortage. From the beginning of August, new places will be available in the army barracks in Berlaar in Antwerp, according to the office of De Moore.
"Reception alone is not the solution," De Moor said in an interview Monday morning. "The government has taken measures to speed up exits and limit entries. A first solution is to allocate additional staff to process the many asylum applications."
She also said a large portion of asylum seekers have already applied for asylum in other European countries like Germany, the Netherlands and France, which present different rules to follow as well as having a separate reception centre to help with their return to the other European countries.
Under the law, Belgium is required to provide accommodation for those in the process of seeking asylum, however, the country has not been doing so resulting in many sleeping on the streets.
The long queues are also indicative of the lack of reception provided to the asylum seekers. Since the beginning of this year, more than 1,400 lawsuits have been filed against Fedasil for failing to provide asylum reception, according to the Belga News Agency.