A reception network under pressure

Fedasil reception
Fedasil is facing a lack of places for the reception of asylum seekers.

While the number of asylum applications is on the rise in Belgium as in other European countries, the situation in front of the arrival centre in Brussels is getting worse by the day. Some 100 isolated men are currently camped out in front of the 'Petit-Château' in the hope of receiving a place in the reception network. As a reminder, Fedasil has had to make choices for several months now due to the lack of places, and priority is given to families, UMs and vulnerable people.

Some isolated men obtain a place through legal action - Fedasil tries to accommodate them as soon as possible or risks having to pay penalties. Furthermore, the places for families, women and UMs (unaccompanied minors) in the reception network are also close to saturation.

This situation is creating a difficult humanitarian situation for asylum seekers, despite the support of the NGOs on site, as well as for the Fedasil staff in charge of managing the access to the centre. A police presence is necessary to guarantee everyone's safety.

Relieving the pressure on reception centres

On 6 July, the federal government took various measures to reduce the pressure on the Fedasil network by increasing capacity, limiting arrivals and accelerating departures from the reception structures.

These measures include the provision by the Belgian Defence of the Berlaar barracks (Antwerp - 750 places), where the Red Cross is preparing to receive the first asylum seekers at the beginning of August. Additional places are also planned through a new call for tenders and through a call to municipalities and NGOs to open more individual and group places.

The government also wants to create a centre specialising in the reception of asylum seekers with a 'Dublin hit' (people who have already applied for asylum in another EU country and for whom that other country is responsible). The objective is to organise a return to the first country of asylum application in Europe.

The Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons (CGRS) will also increase the number of decisions in relation to asylum applications, which will have an impact on departures from the centres.

All these measures should relieve the pressure on the reception network. In the meantime, the various stakeholders are working together to find other solutions in the very short term.

Fedasil and its partners are faced with the saturation of reception structures for asylum seekers. The network currently has more than 31,000 reception places, spread over almost 90 collective centres (federal, Red Cross, private, etc.) and individual accommodation managed by the PCSWs and associations. Fedasil is constantly looking for new places to guarantee the reception of people who come to our country seeking protection.