Big fall in the number of asylum requests

Over the past couple of months the number of asylum requests in Belgium has fallen considerably. That’s according to figures released by the Aliens Office. However, the winter weather rather than the new registration procedure that some claimed was designed to deter would-be asylum-seekers is believed to be behind the fall in the number of asylum requests.

In December 2015 5,238 people claimed asylum in Belgium. This figure was almost halved in January 2016 when 2,842 people claimed asylum. Last month the number of asylum-seekers fell still further to 1,523.

In a press statement released on Friday the Aliens’ Office writes that "The winter is the main reason for the fall. There is always less migration at this time of year as it’s more difficult to travel and sea crossings are more dangerous”.

Meanwhile, the Aliens’ Office has introduced new registration procedures and set a limit of 60 refugees per day that can apply for asylum.

Asylum-seekers must now give their name and their photograph and finger prints are taken. Once registered they are given a number that shows their position in queue .

Each day a list of numbers is put up in the WTC 3 building that serves as an emergency reception centre. As soon as their number appears the would-be asylum-seeker knows on which day he/she will be interviewed by the Aliens’ Office.

Although the NGO Vluchtelingenwerk (Refugee Work) is not against screening people it questions the methods employed by the Aliens’ Office.

"The new methods give the impression that the authorities want to scare people off. We don’t understand why the Aliens’ Office is doing this just as the number of asylum request is falling”.