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Belgium's waiting list for asylum drops to 2,100

10:45 08/06/2023

The list of migrants seeking asylum in Belgium has dropped from just under 3,000 to 2,100 as the country grapples with an ongoing immigration crisis.

Tent "cities" had popped up on the streets of Brussels as more people came to the capital requesting political asylum than the country had space for in its reception centres.

Migration authority Fedasil has since been working to create extra spaces for the surge of migrants, getting the list down to its current 2,100 people over the past three weeks, according to state secretary for asylum and migration Nicole de Moor (CD&V).

“Due to the continued efforts of all asylum services, the number of people on the waiting list is decreasing,” Moor said.

Nevertheless, the influx of asylum seekers remains high and priority is still given to vulnerable people, families with minors and unaccompanied minors. Single men are therefore still ending up on a waiting list.

“All available reception places remain needed,” de Moor said.

An emergency reception system has been set up with the Brussels region, allocating places in chronological order, starting with those who have been waiting the longest.

The Brussels courts have already handed down thousands of convictions against the Belgian state for failing to provide reception places to migrants, but even if a migrant has a court order entitling them to a spot, they still do not necessarily get priority.

Belgium has been facing a reception crisis for several months. The interior committee recently approved an adjustment to the 2023 budget for asylum, which amounts to more than €900 million, a historic amount aimed to help the country to respond to the crisis.

The government is seeking both to create new places and to keep existing ones, notably in Molenbeek, Koksijde and Spa, where politicians there have been asking to have existing reception centres either closed or their occupancy significantly reduced.

“We don't have the luxury of losing a centre,” said de Moor.

Written by Helen Lyons