Around sixty people were arrested on Saturday in and around Brussels’ Gare du Midi during a large-scale operation to secure the area, said Sarah Frederickx, spokeswoman for the Brussels-South police zone.
Most of the people arrested on Saturday were arrested for illegal residence in Belgium. In addition to around a hundred police officers, staff from the Foreigners Office were also on duty. The operation, which began at around 10:00 on Saturday, and continued until the evening.
On Friday, Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden (CD&V) announced a three-pronged action plan to improve security in and around the Gare du Midi, the country’s largest station and a gateway for many foreign travellers.
The Minister of the Interior visited the station on Saturday, where she met several of the police officers deployed. "Such an operation has an immediate effect, but we can’t do it every day," commented the Minister, emphasising the "enormous" effort that had been made.
"After the distress signal sent out by the SNCB and the Brussels-Capital Region, we wanted to set up visible actions quickly. However, a lasting solution is needed to resolve the problems in the long term," she added, citing problems of poverty, housing, addiction and infrastructure deterioration. “These are essential parts of the solution.”