About 900 Ukrainian refugees stuck in Brussels transit centre

About 900 Ukrainian refugees stuck in Brussels transit centre
A centre for the registration of Ukrainian refugees at the Palace 8 hall of Brussels expo on Monday 14 March 2022. Credit: James Arthur Gekiere / Belga

There are currency 899 Ukrainian refugees still at the Ariane transit centre in Woluwe-Saint-Lambert, according to the Red Cross Flanders. Over four in ten have been there for more than 26 days, some up to two months.

The centre was set up by the Red Cross on behalf of Fedasil and intended as a temporary stopover between registration at the Heysel centre and local reception initiatives, Belga News Agency reports. The intention was that refugees would only stay there for a few nights before being placed in permanent accommodation.

Earlier this month, the number of refugees looking for a place to stay hit a peak of 1,000. Due to the challenges of finding permanent housing, Fedasil asked refugees to look for a place themselves.

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"Since then there has been a slight outflow, the number of refugees in Ariane decreased by about 200 people," Joachim Deman, spokesman for Red Cross Flanders, said.

But the challenges of outflow are persistent and shows little sign of improving. This also comes at a time when the centre and others around the country are experiencing staff shortages.

The Redcross criticised a lack of resources and inefficient processing system. Flemish Minister of Housing Mattias Diependaele said he will consult with local authorities. Flanders wants to increase the number of reception places after the summer period, for example in hotels and holiday centres. In addition, two emergency villages will be created in Ghent and in Flemish Brabant.

Last month, the Federal Planning Bureau projected that Belgium will host 83,000 Ukrainian refugees by the end of the year.

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