Twenty volunteers from Amitié Sans Frontières (Friendship without Borders) conducted a symbolic action in support of refugees at about 12.30 p.m. on Saturday outside the Brussels Stock Exchange.
Held on the occasion of World Refugee Day, the volunteers drew attention to the fact that the lockdown imposed in Belgium from mid-March to early June has made the process of applying for asylum more difficult for undocumented persons.
They invited passers-by to take sticks of chalk and help colour a fresco on the ground bearing the words “We are not dangerous, we are in danger”, and drawn by refugee artist Mouhamad Bah.
Singer guitarist Gueladio Ba, who is also a refugee, gave a little concert, while a poem on the theme of migration was read by writer Serge Noël.
With its symbolic action, Amitié Sans Frontières sought to draw attention to the chaos to which the lockdown has led in the asylum process.
“All vulnerable groups have suffered during this period,” Loïc Fraiture, spokesman of the refugee rights network, told Belga news agency.
“We are calling on Belgium to deconfine the reception and registration of asylum seekers,” Fraiture added.
“The Immigration Office is still closed to the public. You need to make an appointment online to register and, in the meantime, the families that are arriving remain on the streets for weeks.”
“The situation in the centres is increasingly difficult because of the closures,” he explained.
“Refugees are packed there, sometimes as many as a thousand, and it’s hard to respect the hygiene measures.”
Amitié Sans Frontières also urged Belgium to receive “a fair share of the 5,000 unaccompanied minors blocked in Greece.”