Massive animated images of bombings and ships in distress were projected, on Thursday around 5.30 p.m., on the wall of the office of the Secretary of State for Asylum and Immigration, Theo Francken. This is based on Rue de la Loi in Bruxelles.
Through this action, the organisations Amnesty International, CIRÉ (Coordination and Initiatives for Refugees and Foreigners) and Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen (Flemish Refugee Action) are asking the government to put in place safe and legal access routes for individuals fleeing conflict and persecution.
The issue of granting or refusing humanitarian visas was put in the spotlight by these associations.
They emphasise that visas are granted to students and certain workers, but not to individuals fleeing war or persecution.
The latter are obliged to take dangerous routes with smugglers, only to request refugee status upon illegal arrival on a given territory.
During 2016, a total of 4,271 individuals have died or disappeared at sea. Countries can grant a humanitarian visa in particular circumstances and for humanitarian reasons.
The associations are calling upon Belgium to indeed deliver more in this sphere, so as to develop an actual policy which can serve as an example at European level.
Instituting this practice will allow, they say, the deployment of safe and legal means to flee from war and as a consequence save lives.
They confirm that the implementation of a genuine policy for granting humanitarian visas, would not open the way for a massive influx of refugees, given that the state is able to define access conditions.