A 20-year-old student from Congo whose expulsion was ordered but failed to take place will now be allowed to remain in the country, according to the Office for Foreigners.
Junior Masudi Wasso, who has been sitting in a closed centre of the Office since 18 September waiting to be expelled back to the Congo, was supposed to be sent back this weekend, but he resisted, and the attempt was called off.
The complaint was that although he had obtained permission to come to Belgium to study economics at UCLouvain – the Catholic university in Louvain-la-Neuve – his registration fee had not been paid, and therefore his permission to enter Belgium was cancelled.
The service said his reason for coming to Belgium was therefore insufficiently grounded.
No sooner had he landed at Brussels Airport than he was detained and taken into custody, where he has been ever since.
Today, however, after the resistance action yesterday had gathered some press attention, the Congolese ministry of foreign affairs reported they had paid the fee.
At the same time, the university reported “about the way and elements by which they assessed that the student is indeed suitable and intended to study at their university.”
The result is that the Office for Foreigners, the government department that controls the presence on the territory of persons who do not already have a right to be here (legal immigrants from for example EU member states), has now declared Junior may remain and pursue his university studies.
Yesterday, while the case still hung in the balance, the rectors of all of the French-speaking universities in the country issued a joint statement deploring the loss of Junior’s liberty.
The Congolese government in Kinshasa also reacted, with a statement from President Félix Tshisekedi condemning his detention and demanding his release.
Meanwhile in French-speaking Belgium, protesters were up in arms.
“What happened to that young man is unacceptable,” said PS leader in the house Ahmed Laaouej.
Former secretary of state Gisèle Mandaila Malamba (DéFI) called the issue “absurd”.
DéFI chairman and MP François De Smet has already said that he will question secretary of state for asylum and migration Sammy Mahdi (CD&V) about the matter during the home affairs committee in the parliament tomorrow.