The violence and precarious living conditions justify the bulk of medical complaints which migrants come forward with. This is reported on Monday by Médecins du Monde (“MdM”). Since October, the association has conducted medical, social, and psychological consultations with migrants in transit in Brussels. “Statements from individuals taken in indicate that police violence is still an issue.”
Two-thirds of people seen in 746 consultations were from Sudan (between 40% and 55%) and Eritrea (between 15% and 25%). These follow the trends of migrants originally from Libya, Syria and Iraq. This is proof for the association that migrants are not “by majority economic migrants.” The Director of the organisation, Pierre Verbeeren, says the majority of these people come from countries in which the recognition rate for refugee status has increased.
He adds, “If they file an application, there is a strong chance that it will be accepted. However, they do not do so, as they believe that Belgium will not consent to consider them, owing to the application of the Dublin II rules. These stipulate that the country where the migrant first arrived must take charge of the application. The people that we met had their fingerprints taken in another European country, before entering Belgium.”
Using approximate percentages, migrants taken in mainly had respiratory tract infections (24%), open wounds, bruises and joint pains (17%), scabies (4%) and mental health issues (4%). Nel Vandevannet, the Director of MdM Belgian Projects, says, “These are diagnoses which are characteristic of a homeless life, in a state of constant anxiety and bad hygiene conditions.” She also stresses that “if there had not been the prospect of admitting Belgian citizens to hospital, the situation would be even worse.”
However police violence was still being flagged up as problematic by the migrants who were seen. Nel Vandevannet says, “We have numerous testimonies from people whose property was confiscated. Such migrants are particularly targeted by public transport checks, and are regularly faced with police violence.”