A sit-in taking place this weekend aims to prevent a series of police actions announced by federal home affairs minister Jan Jambon against the growing number of migrants camping out in the Brussels-North railway station. The group, made up of supporters of various humanitarian groups, goes under the name “Een dak, geen cel” – a roof, not a cell.
The action began on Friday afternoon, following statements by Jambon and his N-VA party colleague Theo Francken, federal secretary of state for migration and asylum. The actions are aimed particularly at transmigrants – those who have not applied for refugee status in Belgium, but who intend to travel on elsewhere, in most cases the United Kingdom.
One of the organisations involved is Solidarity For All. “There is a particular lack of accommodation, food and hygiene,” spokesperson Peter Terryn told De Standaard. “It makes no difference to us whether people are transmigrants or not, asylum-seekers or not. Our concern is that these people receive shelter.”
Meanwhile the group calling itself Plateforme Citoyenne (Citizens’ Platform) has called on supporters to join a protest organised for Sunday afternoon on the square in front of the North station, against a police action to round up migrants camped out in the nearby Maximilian Park, scene of a tent city of migrants in recent years (photo). The police action is thought to be due to take place on Monday morning.
“Degrading and inhuman acts have been recorded by volunteers,” said the organisation’s spokesperson Mehdi Kassou. “We have reports of assaults during detention, and people being forced to strip naked. In recent days, migrants have been continually awoken in the station and in the park, and shifted from one place to another. We worry that food distribution charities will be targeted next, as they are considered to be responsible for giving these people sustenance.”