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Belgium welcomes more migrants from Lesbos

17:15 17/09/2020

Belgium will become home for 100 to 150 more migrants from the Moria reception center on the Greek island of Lesbos, Belgium’s asylum and migration minister Maggie de Block and her Greek counterpart Giorgos Koumoutsakos have announced.

This follows the government’s 15 September decision that 12 non-accompanied minors (MENA – mineurs étrangers non-accompagnés) will be allowed to set foot on Belgian soil. Eighteen other migrants have already arrived this summer, following a request from Greece.

The new group are seen as particularly vulnerable – consisting of families with children, mothers and single women.

The migrant crisis in Greece became even more desperate after 9 September, when the Moria camp was destroyed by fire, leaving around 12,000 candidates looking for asylum without shelter. Following the fire, Germany, that leads the European Union (EU) council of ministers until the end of the year, announced that 10 EU countries including itself, France, Luxembourg and Portugal, were ready to welcome some 400 non-accompanied minors evacuated from the island.

De Block says Belgium is one of this group, while not revealing how many people the country is prepared to take. The minister says Greece first needs to set out its demands, not only how many of its migrants will be welcomed in other countries, but also what medical or material aid is needed.

At the same time, Belgium, along with other countries, continues to call for a structural solution for the thousands of migrants stuck in deplorable conditions in overpopulated Greek ‘hubs’. The government says every EU member state should divide the responsibility of housing these migrants, according to their capacity and size.

For the De Block cabinet, the 12 minors Belgium already supported represent a fair share as far as the country is concerned. These young migrants constitute 3% of the 400 children and young people due to be evacuated from the island. Belgium’s population makes up 2.6% of the European total.