Around a hundred people have been evacuated from a makeshift camp set up in a vacant lot in Brussels, which they had occupied for years, authorities confirmed Wednesday.
Numerous caravan owners and migrants had for years been living in the empty property in the municipality of Anderlecht, which is privately owned, leading to complaints by residents.
Local authorities reportedly gave the green light for the evacuations to be carried out at the start of the month after the camp, originally set up in the municipality’s Rue de la Petite Île, started to spread down the street into the Rue des Goujons.
Police said serious sanitary and security concerns had been a central reason behind the decision to evacuate the camp’s inhabitants.
“A few times we had to intervene for fires and accidents,” Kathleen Calie, spokesperson for the Brussels-South police zone told Bruzz. “There was garbage everywhere, and the place was teeming with rats.”
“People lived in very precarious situations, so we really had to intervene,” she added.
Plans by the owner of the empty lot to build a “business centre” there reportedly accelerated authorities’ decision to vacate the property.
“The owner wanted to start his building project anyway,” the police spokesperson said, adding that the municipality’s mayor, decided to “issue an expulsion order so that process could be accelerated.”
The spokesperson said the camp’s inhabitants had been “put in contact” with social services and that “most had already left for France,” since they had been notified beforehand of the evacuation.