More and more asylum seekers returning home voluntarily

Last month for the first time more asylum seekers left Belgian asylum centres than arrived there. The figures come from the government agency charged with taking care of asylum seekers, Fedasil.

The agency says that more and more asylum seekers are choosing to leave the country voluntarily.

Belgium's Asylum and Migration Secretary, Maggie De Block (Flemish liberal), opened Caricole, the new transit centre for asylum seekers at Steenokkerzeel outside Brussels on Wednesday and also confirmed the new trend.

During the first three months of the year 970 asylum seekers in the care of Fedasil decided to return to their home country voluntarily. The figure is up 40%. In the same period last year only 678 people made a similar move.

The Belgian Immigration Department has a voluntary repatriation programme that is working well. The Asylum Secretary has welcomed the latest figures: "If for the first time more people return home and leave our care network than arrive here, then this will reduce pressure on the reception system."

Ms De Block stressed that a lot of people are involved in the work intended to help would-be asylum seekers return home of their own accord. In addition there is co-operation with organisations and authorities beyond our borders: "We encourage people to be in contact with their home country so that they are aware of the conditions they will meet when they arrive home."