New tents had to be pitched at the Maximilien camp on Saturday, according to Elodie Franckart, the spokesman for the civilian refugee support platform. She said there are around 400 to 500 people living in the camp.
She says it’s due to the Foreigner’s Office being closed at the weekend. “The WTC III building only takes those who have been given a ticket by the Foreigner’s Office. So those who arrive on a weekend (100 to 150 a day) have nowhere to go”.
Miss Franckart also explained that only 268 of the 300 available spaces at the Red Cross centre were filled on Thursday for two reasons: the time necessary for checks, which creates discouraging queues, and the non-mixed dormitories. She also said the 200 extra spaces which were supposed to become available on Friday evening only became available at 2pm on Saturday. Refugees always have problems finding out when spaces have become available.
The platform started to put a citizen housing system in place on Friday evening, through the website www.bxlrefugees.be. The site was launched on Wednesday. “We need a new building to house these refugees”, says Elodie Franckart. She said she wants to be able to take the camp down before there are sanitation problems due to the weather. “Until the Foreigner’s Office ups its quota of 250 people to 500, the number of refugees in temporary housing situations won’t decrease. They are continuing to arrive. Even if we manage to house everyone in the camp, thanks to the solidarity of our citizens, if they don’t change their policy the camp will have to go back up within a month”.