Wednesday, June 19, 2024
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Belgium Suspends Acceptance of Single Male Asylum Seekers

Belgium on Wednesday announced a temporary suspension on the acceptance of single male asylum seekers in the country. The decision, announced by Nicole de Moor, the State Secretary for Asylum and Migration, aims to prioritize families and children due to the increasing influx of such vulnerable groups.

Nicole de Moor explained the decision, stating,

“I do not want to lag behind the facts, and I am therefore making the decision now to reserve all available places for families with children. The high number of asylum seekers who came to our country in the past two years continues to weigh on the reception network. We continue to open new centers, but everyone has seen in the past year how difficult it is to create shelters. I absolutely want to prevent children from ending up on the street.”

De Moor emphasized the strain on the reception network caused by the significant increase in asylum applications in recent years. In a letter addressed to the State Secretary for Asylum and Migration of Belgium, Dunja Mijatović, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, highlighted the fact that in October 2022 alone, more than 1,500 asylum seekers, including families with children and unaccompanied minors, were unable to be provided with accommodation, resulting in them being forced to sleep on the streets. Additionally, the limited capacity to register asylum applications and process them in a timely manner further exacerbated the difficulties faced by individuals seeking international protection in Belgium. Mijatović emphasized the need for the Belgian authorities to address these issues and acknowledged that the present situation exposed structural shortcomings in the country’s asylum system.

De Moor also clarified that the Belgian government is actively engaged in the thorough reform of migration policy at both the national and EU levels. She stated that these reforms are aimed at yielding long-term benefits by enhancing control over migration and promoting a fair distribution of asylum seekers within the EU.

The move has sparked debates and concerns. Alain Maron, Minister of the Government of the Brussels-Capital Region, criticized the move, stating that it would lead to an increase in homelessness within Brussels. He urged the federal government to fulfill its national and international responsibilities. Bernard Clerfayt, a minister from the DéFI party, expressed his disapproval, stating that the federal level is rejecting its obligation to receive all asylum seekers.

From a legal standpoint, Belgium appears to have an obligation to protect refugees on its territory as a signatory to the 1951 Geneva Convention. The Convention defines a refugee as someone with a well-founded fear of persecution based on specific grounds. By signing this Convention, Belgium committed to providing protection to refugees and granting them a residence permit for an unlimited period once recognized.

Source: Jurist



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