A group of around 100 migrants sleeping in the Maximilien Park close to Brussels North railway station were moved out by police on Friday evening, but nobody seems to know exactly why.
According to the platform for the support of refugees, posting on Facebook, the migrants were told the operation was the first of a number of clearances planned to take place all week in connection with the Brussels stage of the Tour de France.
However the office of Brussels-City mayor Philippe Close gave another reason. There, a spokesperson explained that the operation had been planned eight weeks ago. “We continue to look for a balance between the two groups of people involved,” Het Nieuwsblad reports. “There are the refugees for whom we are looking for a humane solution and trying to provide a bed. And there are the local residents who want to see peace and quiet return to the park.”
Whatever the reason, the people sleeping in the park were directed to new accommodation recently opened by the city’s agency for the homeless, Samusocial. Some also found their way to the Porte d’Ulysse, the accommodation in an office building in Haren provided by the city for migrants. The centre this week had its subsidy renewed by Brussels to allow it to remain open until August.
The police operation was carried out without problems, the platform said. The Haren block has room for some 350 refugees, and volunteers are also being sought to offer accommodation to others.
“We can only be thankful that new places are opening up to accommodate a maximum number of people,” the platform’s spokesperson posted. “We can however absolutely not be thankful for the manner in which things have been carried out. If the reasoning is one of commercial interest or image, then these places are opening up for the wrong reason, and we deplore such actions.”