After Belgium has again and again failed to provide asylum seekers with shelter with unaccompanied minors sleeping rough for over a week, State Secretary for Asylum and Migration Nicole de Moor has announced that no children would be on the streets tonight.
In the Chamber on Thursday, de Moor was questioned about the asylum reception crisis that has been ongoing for over a year now, after the news that single men, unaccompanied minors and now also families with children (one as young as six months old) will be sent back to the streets despite the reality that they are legally entitled to shelter.
“I call on everyone to come out of the ideological trenches and work together for solutions,” said de Moor, referring to the fact that the federal ministers failed to reach an agreement on opening a large-scale humanitarian emergency shelter on Wednesday evening.
Following that meeting, Thomas Willekens of Refugee Work Flanders stated that the lack of agreement at the federal level was “another heavy blow” to the midfield organisations that are trying to offer the shelter that the Belgian State should provide.
“The urgency is still lacking. Even after minors are already sleeping on the street every day, and families have to wait and see every day,” he added. “How far are they going to let this go?”
Last week, ministers agreed to temporarily assign 150 staff members from other departments to Belgium’s Federal Asylum agency Fedasil in order to increase capacity and to better deal with the acute shortage of staff in reception centres. However, a short-term solution is not in place.
However, the Brussels Regional Government and de Moor did find an agreement on the emergency shelter of 40 unaccompanied minors from Thursday evening, in a building in the municipality of Ixelles.
This agreement followed outrage over the fact that the mayor of Brussels City Philippe Close ordered 17 cardboard tents in which underage migrants were sleeping to be destroyed for two days in a row.