Tuesday, 13 January 2015
A protest march for migrants has been organised for February 14th and 15th. The procession will start in Brussels and end in Antwerp where the walkers want to meet with Bishop Johan Bonny. During the march, the participants, who are demanding a residence permit, will stop over at Dossin barracks in Mechelen, at Fort Breendonck and at Métallurgie Hoboken, a firm in the area. They also want to speak with Cardinal Danneels while they are in Mechelin.
During their march, the undocumented migrants plan to meet up with associations, unions and local authorities to explain the course of action they have chosen and to publicise their struggle. “We can all picture the scenes of migrants crammed like sardines onto cargo ships about to smash into the rocks. In December last year, two cargo ships with over 1,000 people on board were found drifting in the Mediterranean sea. In 2014, over 3,000 people died in the Mediterranean sea,” said Oscar Flores, spokesman for the march organiser, Front des Migrants (a network grouping 5 organisations of undocumented migrants or of people who support them).
“There are more than 50 million displaced people worldwide yet over the past 15 years, the number of asylum seekers applying to Belgium has gone down by two thirds,” from 42,000 in 2000 to 15,000 today. “Despite these figures, 50% of all applications are rejected, including those made by families from warring countries. Yet, according to an OECD report, each accepted migrant apparently fills Belgian tax coffers by an average of nearly 3,500 euros per year.”
Oscar Flores adds that “Theo Francken, Secretary of State for Asylum, Migration and Administrative Simplification has radicalised procedure by bumping up the number of expulsion flights, adding substantially to the list of countries deemed ‘safe’ and pushing for a faster turnaround for asylum requests which inevitably leads to the requests being examined in less detail.” “This is why the undocumented migrants from the Front des Migrants continue to demand their contribution and their right to freedom and human dignity be recognised. In addition to ensuring the welfare of the children is reviewed during the asylum procedure, we want to see a regularisation procedure set up, based on five criteria made permanent by law, along with one which would require requests to be examined by an independent commission.”