"BDW's talking rubbish!"

Bart De Wever's pronouncements in Saturday's edition of the daily Het Laatste Nieuws triggered a raft of reactions. Mr De Wever had said that Syrian refugees stopped being refugees and became economic migrants once they left the first safe country they had reached.

Els Keytsman of the refugee organisation Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen believes the Flemish nationalist leader's words were incorrect and shocking. She added that Mr De Wever was talking "rubbish". "Calling people fleeing for their lives economic profiteers? This must stop! You should not stigmatise or push away refugees."

Ms Keytsman claims that Mr De Wever's thinking conflicts with the Geneva Convention that stipulates that countries have the legal and moral duty to offer aid to people fleeing war and requesting assistance.

Flemish socialist leader John Crombez is worried that the Flemish nationalists will use the refugee crisis as an excuse to ditch social security provisions.

John Crombez: "The truth is that millions of refugees are living in atrocious circumstances. Does Mr De Wever really believe refugees are undertaking a dangerous trip without any forethought?"

Green leader Meyrem Almaci says she's disappointed that the leader of Belgium's biggest party shows so little responsibility for the refugee crisis: "Mr De Wever should do more to come up with solutions for the crisis and not predict doom and gloom: Where are the answers from N-VA ministers? The refugees are at our door!"

The opposition ecologists favour co-operation across party lines on this issue: “We need courageous leaders. The refugee crisis must remain manageable thanks to a co-ordinated approach. People should be helped to integrate as quickly as possible thanks to a job and support in learning our language."