Brussels City Council no longer perceives that there is any justification for the presence, in Maximilian Park, of migrants who are not actually seeking asylum. L’Echo reports on Friday that the issue is arousing complaints from local residents. The Deputy Mayor, Alain Courtois (Reformist Movement) is demanding a three-point plan.
The City Council says that given a large proportion of people in Maximilian Park are not themselves seeking asylum, but are only passing through the area, the pure proximity of the Asylum and Migration Office buildings can no longer justify their presence in the area.
Alain Courtois stresses that, in his view, these migrants are drawn to the park close to the Gare du Nord by mobile applications, the presence of passers-by in the area and the suggestion that, as migrants, they may be provided with something to eat.
Courtois says, “Residents have to reclaim ownership of the Maximilian Park. The decision is unanimous (on the Socialist Party-Reformist Movement Council, editor’s note) as to the view that if we do nothing, the same situation will subsist in the park in five years’ time.” He spoke about the issue on Wednesday with the Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration, Theo Francken (New Flemish Alliance) and the Department for the Interior Minister, Jan Jambon (New Flemish Alliance).
As alluded to above, Alain Courtois is calling for a three-point plan. L’Echo reports that this should include anti-smuggler measures by the federal police, moving undocumented migrants to another location (the Etterbeek barracks and a location in Haren – the former NATO headquarters – were mentioned. However, Theo Francken is refusing the creation of a “specific hub for the United Kingdom”) and tighter local police controls.
The Maximilian Park has been subject to several far-reaching police actions, specifically targeting migrants, in recent years. Last year, Theo Francken aroused indignation by affirming his wish to “clean up the park”. For a multitude of NGOs and volunteers, the location has also become one for protests in support of migrants.