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Mayors demand federal police tackle migrant crime at North Station

17:40 01/12/2021

Problems at North Station in Brussels are in the headlines again as mayors of three municipalities have penned a letter to federal ministers threatening to close some of the entrances to the station if the feds do not intervene. The mayors point to an increase in incidents involving drugs and weapons.

Because the problems are being caused by transmigrants, say the mayors of Schaerbeek, Saint-Josse and Evere, Brussels police can do little to solve the problem. Even if they arrest people who are causing trouble, they cannot keep them in custody.

The mayors addressed the letter to interior minister Annelies Verlinden (CD&V), justice minister Vincent Van Quickenborne (Open VLD) and migration secretary Sammy Mahdi (CD&V). They demand that federal police agents patrol North Station and that a transmigrant reception centre be established that would provide temporary housing.

‘Not another Calais’

If this does not happen, say the mayors, they will be forced to shut some entrances to the busy train station and to submit a formal demand that federal police be present in and around the building. “Why let the transmigrants camp out in a park or other public space, without establishing a centre, making a positive project out of it?” questioned Saint-Josse mayor Emir Kir, speaking to Bruzz. “It’s incomprehensible.”

Kir said that he wants federal authorities to work with the transmigrants, “who have come to Brussels to try to work. They are asking for guidance and some kind of intake process. That’s a federal responsibility.”

No can do, replied Mahdi, who says that such a reception centre would simply draw more migrants to Brussels. “I am not going to create another Calais in Brussels,” he said.

The entire situation is a reminder of the problems that plagued North Station in 2018 and 2019, when upwards of 200 transmigrants were living in the station, without proper facilities. In May of 2019, all of them were moved to homeless shelters.

©Thierry Roge/BELGA

 

Written by Lisa Bradshaw