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Transitory migrants in Brussels: police violence and bad health

13:20 19/12/2017

Violence and precarious living conditions are behind the majority of migrants’ medical complaints, said Médecins du Monde on Monday. Since October, the association has been running medical, social and psychological consultations for Brussels’ transitory migrants at its city-centre hub in Rue du Frontispice.

The migrants have mainly been treated for respiratory infections, open wounds, bruising, articular pain, scabies and mental health problems. “These are diagnoses which are consistent with living on the street in a climate of constant anxiety,” said MdM’s director of Belgian projects Nel Vandevannet. She added that if it wasn’t for the hospitality of Belgian citizens, the situation would be worse.

Vandevannet also highlighted police violence as still being problematic for migrants. “We receive numerous accounts from people who have had their belongings confiscated. They are particularly targetted in public transport spot checks and regularly face violence by police,” she said.

Two thirds of migrants seen in consultations originate from Sudan (40 to 55%) and Eritrea (15 to 25%). The remainder come from Libya, Syria and Iraq. “The majority of these people come from countries for which the recognition of refugee status is very high,” said MdM director Pierre Verbeeren.

“If they introduced an application they would have a good chance it would be accepted. But they don’t do this because they believe Belgium wouldn’t consider it because of the Dublin rule. This procedure states that it is the country the migrant first entered which should study the application. The people that we meet have given their digital fingerprints to another European country before entering Belgium.”

Written by Sarah Crew