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Relatives of bomb attack victims start foundation

10:45 13/12/2016

Two family members of a victim of the 22 March bomb attacks in Brussels and Zaventem have started a non-profit organisation to bring other relatives of victims together. The pair say such an organisation is necessary because of the administrative confusion surrounding the aftermath of the attacks.

Eddy Van Calster, the husband of Fabienne Vansteenkiste, who died in the attack on Brussels Airport, and Philippe Vansteenkiste, her brother, say that their lives are still dominated by administrative red tape. “Each time you have to fill in forms and tick boxes, and each time you have to go through the same pain,” he told Bruzz.

His parents, he said, are also subject to reliving the loss of their daughter over and over. Other families of victims are going through the same ordeal, he said.

They were also dismayed about how long it took to identify Fabienne’s body. According to Van Calster, he was never officially informed by the state that she was among the dead.

Since the attacks at the airport and in the Brussels metro, 778 people have registered as victims, according to federal prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw. There are various departments that deal with victims and the relatives of victims, he said. His own office took on a co-ordinating role immediately after the attacks, but since then victims have been taken up by other services, depending on their status.

At the same time, he said, 45% of the Brussels judicial police are now delegated to terrorism cases, instead of the 15% theoretically deployed to the area. That has taken officers away from other cases, putting pressure on local forces.

Van Leeuw has now called for the creation of a separate, centralised terrorism unit to cope with the growing number of related cases – up from 145 in 2010 to 1,050 in the first 10 months of this year.

Photo: Miguel Discart/Wikimedia

Written by Alan Hope