New repatriation centre for failed asylum seekers

Belgium's Federal Government is creating a new repatriation centre for asylum seekers. It involves a pilot project that could accommodate 70 people and should be ready in the autumn.

The centre is being housed in premises that are vacant at the moment. The exact location remains a mystery, but it is believed to be in the vicinity of Brussels so that it has easy access to Brussels Airport.

The centre will house failed asylum seekers who are singles: they have completed their asylum procedure and have been told that they do not qualify.

Migration and Asylum Minister Melchior Wathelet (Francophone Christian democrat): "In this way it will be easier to discuss repatriation with failed asylum seekers. They can return voluntarily or we will have to tell them that they will forcibly be removed from the territory."

Until now failed asylum seekers were accommodated in ordinary asylum centres. The Belgian Government believes there is now a need for a strict separation between asylum seekers and people who have completed the application procedure but failed to convince the authorities of their case.