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    Transmigrants abandon Brussels North station

    © Belga
    © Belga

    At the moment, there are no longer transmigrants and homeless people at the North station in Brussels. The place in the station where about 200 transmigrants and homeless people slept until recently, is now – except for some things left behind – completely abandoned, determined VRT NWS. The transmigrants were taken to reception centres on Thursday evening.

    The presence of the dozens of transmigrants and homeless people in the North station caused a great deal of nuisance when buses from transport company De Lijn stopped serving the bus stop under the station due to hygiene reasons. Non-profit organisations have been asking for a solution for several weeks, but the different political levels referred to each other for responsibility.

    On Thursday night, buses were deployed to bring the 200 people to a reception centre. The police were ready to remove the transmigrants who would refuse to leave the station on Friday morning, but that has not been necessary.

    The breakthrough came after consultation between federal minister for asylum and migration Maggie De Block (Open VLD), Brussels minister-president Rudi Vervoort (PS), mobolity minister Pascal Smet (SP.A) and various organizations and agencies.

    The transmigrants are now receiving shelter in a Brussels homeless centres, where minister De Block has authorised Fedasil staff to come to the scene and personally guide and give advice on a solution for everyone’s personal situation. Migrants who consider voluntary return or an asylum procedure will be helped by the Fedasil network, but those who return to the North station will be transferred to a closed asylum centre.

    “I am very happy with this important breakthrough,” said De Block to VRT NWS. “A train station is not a reception centre. The circumstances were not humane, neither for transmigrants, nor for the travellers and people who had to work there. I would like to thank all the authorities and organisations involved,” she added.

    “We are very happy with this initiative,” said Mehdi Kassou of the citizen platform that aids refugees to VRT NWS. “This is actually what we have been asking for a long time: give the transmigrants the correct information under calm circumstances, not after they have been arrested by the police they mistrust. From examples in the reception and orientation centres in France, we see that for the majority of people a solution is found that the transmigrants themselves agree to,” he added.

    Maïthé Chini
    The Brussels Times

    Correction: A previous version of this story said that the migrants had left the South station, not the North station.