Nearly 13,000 administrative arrests of in-transit migrants were registered in 2018 by the Immigration Office, Le Soir said on Monday. This is a record increase of 37% compared to the previous year.
13,000 is the number of arrests, not the number of people that went through Belgium in order to reach England. Some migrants were arrested ten times over the year, while others never were.
This increase may reflect a greater presence of migrants attempting to cross into England eithervia the port of Zeebrugge, or by hiding in trucks on highway parking areas, Le Soir said.
Half of the arrests were migrants in-transit from Eritrea. Other people that were regularly arrested were from Iraq, Sudan, Algeria, Syria and Ethiopia. The first half of 2019 follows this trend as 5,233 arrests were made between January and July.
In five years’ time, the number of administrative arrests has risen from 1,891 in 2014, to 12,848 in 2018, which is almost a sevenfold increase. The sharp increase shows that more migrants in-transit are travelling via Belgium, but also that greater efforts are made by police against transit migration.
Those efforts were strongly encouraged by the Federal Government (which made it a priority under N-VA’s power), with transit migrant detentions having been multiplied by more than three in one year.