Belgium's State Secretary for Asylum and Migration Sammy Mahdi and Molenbeek mayor Catherine Moureaux have engaged in a public spat over a reception centre for asylum seekers in the Brussels municipality.
Molenbeek had seen Fedasil turn a rest home that had shut down in 2021 into a reception centre, in order to house Ukrainian refugees. However, once it became clear that the space was unoccupied, the federal agency used it to ease the pressure on the overburdened asylum-seeking reception network.
This shift in usage was greeted with opposition by the commune's residents, who launched a petition, that garnered over 850 signatures, in order to close the centre down because of the "excessive noise pollution it generated."
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The petition was signed by the municipality, which even drew up a report at the start of June, according to VRT, in order to shut the centre down as it did not meet the conditions of its planning permission.
In response, Mahdi called for a consultation meeting and has already made several proposals to address local concerns, according to Belga News Agency.
However, it is uncertain what would be stated at this suggested meeting because a spokesperson for Mahdi informed The Brussels Times that "the subject matter could only be discussed during the consultation meeting."