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    Humanitarian help for refugees moves house to port of Brussels

    The number of people found in Belgium without legal residency rose in 2018. Credit: © Belga

    The so-called “humanitarian hub” – a grouping of organisations offering help and support for refugees and other migrants – has taken up residence at new premises by the Port of Brussels.

    Previously, the hub, which grew out of a wave of aid and support for refugees sleeping rough in the Maximilien Park near the North station, has been housed by the station itself. However since the beginning of a protest by drivers of Flemish public transport authority De Lijn over conditions in the bus terminal in the station, there has been a crackdown on trans-migrants in the station. The contract for the previous hub coincidentally expired at about the same time. The new hub is still in the nearby area, with a contract with the port authority for at least a year.

    The hub is manned daily by about 15 volunteers, dealing with the problems brought to them by about 200 migrants. According to Emmy Deschuttere of Doctors of the World, speaking to Bruzz, those include medical and psychological help for the problems often suffered by refugees arising from their passage here.

    They can also come here for food, for clothing and also for family connections, to maintain links with family in the homeland.” Services also include legal aid and guidance towards finding accommodation.

    Other organisations taking part in the activities of the hub include the Red Cross, doctors without Borders and the Platform for Support of Refugees. The groups continue to argue for the creation by the federal government of a permanent centre for aid and guidance for refugees and other migrants, something that has hitherto been resisted by secretary of state for asylum Maggie De Block.

    Alan Hope
    The Brussels Times