"No new closed asylum centres"

"The Belgian Government has no plans to open any new closed centres for asylum seekers that are being expelled at the minute" says Belgian Asylum Secretary Theo Francken. The junior minister was responding to an appeal from Freddy Roosemont, the head of the Belgian Immigration Department, who claims that many more closed centres for asylum seekers are needed.

At present there are 450 places for failed asylum seekers in closed centres. The figure is being increased to 600 soon. Each and every month a thousand failed asylum seekers are ordered to leave Belgian territory, but few take any notice of this order. Mr Roosemont told the VRT that double the number of places are really needed.

Asylum Secretary Francken insists that closed centres are too expensive and that their number will now not be increased. The minister pledged that extra places would be created at existing centres: "I understand the request. It's true there is too little capacity and the government has decided to increase the capacity. Extra cash is being released to pay for extra staff. Capacity is being expanded by a third taking the total number of places in closed centres above 600. It goes without saying that in the long-term extra capacity will have to be created."