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Palestinian migrants choose Belgium despite having protection elsewhere

15:07 04/05/2024

More Palestinians that have been given refugee status in another European Union member state are coming to Belgium, the Office of the Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons (CGRA) has announced.

The organisation’s announcement followed information published by Flemish news service VRT. This phenomenon, known as secondary migration, normally leads to protection being refused in Belgium.

VRT said that some 340 Palestinians arrive in Belgium every month. People granted refugee status elsewhere, but who nevertheless want to live in Belgium, are invited to an interview with CGRA, the organisation responsible for examining an application for international protection.

“Just because someone flees their country and France recognises them as a refugee, does not mean that Belgium has to follow that decision,” Olivier Brasseur, CGRA spokesman, said.

“The CGRA examines people on a case-by-case basis and checks if the protection afforded to the person in that European country is sufficiently effective. If not, it reexamines the risk of returning the person to his/her country of origin.”

In total, 88% of Palestinians seeking asylum in Belgium are from Gaza. In view of the current Middle East crisis, some 95% of Palestinians are granted asylum on Belgian territory when they apply for the first time, or when the country which previously gave them protection is not considered safe enough.

But, on the whole, migrants given protection elsewhere are generally refused asylum in Belgium.

According to the CGRA, in March 2024, Palestine, Syria and Afghanistan were among the top 10 countries of people demanding international protection in Belgium. There were some 2,743 applicants in total.

Written by Liz Newmark