No end to stream of refugees entering Brussels


After a brief dip in the numbers, asylum-seekers arriving in Brussels have increased again, as Francken prepares plan for the spread of housing across Belgium

WTC beds back to 1,000

The federal government has again increased the number of places available for refugees who have not yet been processed by the Immigration Office, as the stream of asylum-seekers arriving in Belgium continues unabated.

After a brief respite, the numbers of refugees arriving this week rose again, leaving the Office for Foreigners unable to cope with the daily demand. Those who cannot be processed are sent away with an appointment for another day, and as the numbers grow, those appointments are scheduled further and further in the future.

Those who have not been processed cannot be assigned accommodation by Fedasil, the government’s asylum agency. In the summer, that led to the tent camp set up by the Red Cross in Maximilian Park in Brussels. As autumn approached, the refugees were moved indoors, to the WTC-III office building near North Station. The 500 places originally planned became 1,000.

When the numbers dipped, 500 of those places were taken over by post-processed asylum-seekers, according to migration minister Theo Francken. Now that pre-processing numbers are rising again, they will revert to their original purpose.

Francken has asked municipal authorities to make a special effort to take in refugees, while awaiting a dispersal plan that he said should be ready by the first of the year.

The volunteer group that ran the tent camp for the Red Cross, meanwhile, has warned of large numbers of unprocessed refugees forced to sleep rough in the coming days. Some have been given appointments 10 days in the future, and the available places are limited.

Photo: Thierry Roge/BELGA