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North Station situation out of control as migrant numbers grow

15:27 04/05/2018
Since the winter shelters closed a month ago, some 150 transmigrants are living in Brussels North Station, and the situation has become untenable

Since Brussels’ winter shelters have closed, hundreds of transmigrants – people passing through Belgium on their way to somewhere else – have been living in North Station. Brussels minister Pascal Smet has announced that the winter shelter in Haren will be re-opened to help deal with the problem.

The winter shelters in Brussels closed on the last day of March, and since then about 150 people have been staying at North Station. The station closes between 1.00 and 4.00, at which point people move outside and sleep in front of the south entrance.

The Citizen’s Platform for Refugee Support is helping by providing food, but the station has no services and is becoming overrun with garbage and the smell of urine. The Citizen’s Platform, created to help refugees and other migrants who were previously living in Maximilien Park to find housing, have asked the Brussels region and the federal government for funding for a migrant centre to provide shelter and information.

According to Smet (SP.A), this is the federal government’s responsibility, and Brussels will insist that they pay for the efforts that will be made. “We are not going to wait on the federal government because this is a distressing humanitarian situation that has to be taken care of,” Smet said yesterday evening, “but we expect that the federal government step up and take some responsibility. It is unacceptable that people are sleeping on the ground in the streets and stations of Brussels.”

Francken: ‘Brussels will get nothing’

“He can count on zero euros,” migration state secretary Theo Francken (N-VA) immediately responded. “I have always been against this migration hub that Brussels apparently wants to be. The only one who would be satisfied with that is the mayor of Calais. If Brussels wants to be a kind of safe  haven for illegal transmigrants, then they should go ahead, but not at the expense of the federal government.”

Public transport authority De Lijn, meanwhile, is threatening to stop servicing the station if it is not cleaned up. The bus stops are located in the tunnel under the station. “I sympathise with the situation these people are in, but there is so much trash, and people relieve themselves here,” a bus driver told VRT. “It’s one of Brussels main transport stations, not an asylum centre.”

A spokesperson for De Lijn said that passengers were starting to avoid the stop. “They are moving on to the Place Rogier stop because it doesn’t seem safe at North Station anymore.”

Written by Lisa Bradshaw



Are we so dumb that we cannot find a solution to the issues of migrants? The world, not just in Europe is facing real problems and there just does not seem to be any workable solutions coming forward. The UN estimates there are now some 650 million displaced people, for differing reasons. With such numbers, who has the mandate to coordinate a response? Belgium, like many countries are responsible for what happens on their soil - so need to solve the problem - but it seems that the EU could have a role to play in supporting it's members with resources, both human and financial to manage the current issues. With such high numbers, what is the tipping point that will trigger a workable solution?

May 7, 2018 09:07

Is this the same Pascal Smet, Brussels (Im)mobility minister? OMG

May 7, 2018 11:48

Quick correction: there are way more than 150 transmigrants in Brussels. The night care center, Porte d'Ulysse, that closed recently, used to welcome up to 300 people each night. Given that more or less 100 migrants find shelter each night at citizens' places, and that another hundred don't and remain in the street, we are talking about more or less 500 migrants in Brussels. The number is not particularly growing, Brussels is not becoming a new Calais as Francken likes to say. Since the Porte d'Ulysse has closed, all refugees are staying in the neighborhood of North Station. My last remark: I am working every single day with these people. Despite the smell of urine and the trash left behind, there is absolutely no way that these people bring a unsafe atmosphere in the De Lijn North Station tunnels. Please go there anytime during the day or at night and you will witness the harsh conditions these people live in. There is no room for aggression in their daily struggle.

May 8, 2018 09:57

This seems to be the problem. Not the problem for the migrants but for us. It shows that we are so literally blank planners that we can't even plan or sort anything out for the migrant issue. I bet several write my assignment for me writers can even provide a better solution as they are content planner . KEYWORD "PLANNER"

May 8, 2018 11:33

Everyone who posts things like "are we so dumb that we can't find a solution" should shut up and open the door to their house/apartment to these people and stop expecting someone else to deal with the problem .

May 24, 2018 09:35