More than 3,000 illegal immigrants detained in West Flanders this year

Since the start of the year 3,076 illegal immigrants have been detained in West Flanders. The figures come from province’s Governor Carl Decaluwé (Christian democrat) who was responding to a question put to him by the Flemish nationalist member of the Provincial Council. Kurt Himpe.

Mr Himpe asked for figures on the number of illegal aliens detained this year in the light of the news that the French authorities are to open a reception centre for migrants in Bailleul, just a stone’s throw away from the border with West Flanders.

During the first five months of this year 2,000 illegal aliens were detained. Two months later this had risen to more than 3,000. This amounts to an average of 100 a week since the start of the year.

The figures for the past two months are up slightly on the first 5 months of the year with 500 illegal immigrants per month being detained in May and June.

However, Governor De Caluwé is keen to stress that these are often the same people that have been counted twice. Nevertheless, the slight increase during the past two months is clear.

The figures for this are down considerably on those for 2016. During the first five months of last year 4,000 illegal immigrants were detained in West Flanders.

According to Mr De Caluwé the Federal Judicial Police in West Flanders have launched 36 investigations into human trafficking so far this year.

Speaking in an interview with the press agency Belga, Mr Himpe said that "From the latest figures it would appear that there has been an increase in the number of people detained and in instances of human trafficking”.

"There is a great deal of concern in West Flanders that with a reception centre so close to the border more migrants will come to the West Flemish ports to try and make the crossing to the UK”.

"Governor Decaluwé stressed in his answer that the police service is giving priority to the issue of transmigration and the Arro Ieper Local Police Service is patrolling the border crossings with France in Heuvelland”.