Haren shelter closed for a night due to “explosive atmosphere”
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    Haren shelter closed for a night due to “explosive atmosphere”

    The Haren shelter for migrants was closed on the night of Saturday to Sunday due to an “explosive atmosphere”, according to a report on Bruzz radio, confirmed to the Belga news agency by Mehdi Kassou of the Brussels Citizens Refugee-Support Platform. He explained that the current heatwave had caused many homeless persons, in addition to migrants, to seek help from the organization in finding shelter. “The situation is very difficult because in the Parc Maximilien, where we cater for migrants, more and more people are coming to us for help,” Kassou said. “There are often hundreds of people.”

    The heatwave and the closure of shelters for the winter have made the organisation’s work difficult. The high temperatures are as intolerable for the homeless as the cold in winter.

    Since the Haren centre opened in early June, 1,600 persons, about 600 of them migrants, have knocked on the Platform’s doors.

    “The atmosphere was explosive on Saturday,” Kassou said. “There were also many people who have mental problems or problems linked to alcohol or drugs, which made the situation unmanageable on Sunday.”

    “We regret having had to take that decision, but we regret even more that we had to feel we are the only ones to how defective the response is to the demand for shelter in Brussels (and in Belgium),” the Platform said on its Facebook page.

    The centre, which reopened its doors on Sunday in better conditions, is run by the Platform in collaboration with Médecins du Monde, the Ciré non-profit, which supports refugees and other migrants in Belgium, and Doctors without Borders.

    Jason Bennett
    The Brussels Times