150 refugees camp outside closed gates of Brussels Petit Château

150 refugees camp outside closed gates of Brussels Petit Château
Dozens of asylum seekers waiting at the entrance of the Fedasil registration center Petit Chateau in Brussels, Monday 25 July 2022. Credit: Nils Quintelier / Belga

Between 120 and 150 people are currently waiting in front of the Brussels Petit Château refugee reception centre to submit their request for international protection, humanitarian organisation Médecins du Monde (MDM, Doctors of the World) reports.

The Federal Agency for the reception of asylum seekers, Fedasil, does not have any plans or solutions regarding the primary needs of the people who sometimes spend days and nights waiting in front of the centre, MDM said.

The refugees have no access to water, as a drinking fountain that was installed in July this year has broken and been removed; they do not receive hot meals or have access to a shower or decent toilet. For women or children, there are no sanitary facilities.

Lacking basic, essential needs

“The lack of hygiene and access to toilets and showers and not being able to do laundry prevents us from effectively treating dermatological problems such as scabies. We saw several cases during our last visit in the field,” explains Maïté Montuir, head of MDM mobile team projects in Brussels.

People are referred to the Humanitarian Hub which has a day centre, toilets, distributes hot meals and offers specialised services. But the capacities of the Hub are limited, recalls Doctors of the World who ask that measures be taken quickly in order to meet the essential needs of these people.

To add insult to injury, the gates of the application centre remained closed for new applications today, Bruzz reported. After nuisance complaints from residents near Petit Château, the crush barriers were moved from the back to the front of the building by the Brussels police.

This resulted in chaos and confusion, as Petit Château has separate entrances for staff and for applicants staying in the centre. Fedasil maintains that it is essential to keep these ‘flows’ separated, but that was not possible on Thursday morning. In response to the chaos, Fedasil decided not to accept newcomers into the building.

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“It was clear that the Fedasil staff was not aware of the changes either,” said Thomas Willekens of Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen (Refugee Work Flanders).

“Usually Fedasil employees go through the front gate into the Klein Kasteeltje, but today we saw them come out again completely confused as they were led to another gate. It was a bizarre situation."

Two ambulances also arrived at Petit Château this morning, as two men became unwell.

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