Belgium to send asylum-seekers back to Greece

Belgium is to start applying the conditions of the Dublin Regulation again and send asylum-seekers back to Greece. Under the terms of the Dublin Regulation asylum-seekers’ applications for asylum must be dealt with in the first EU country they entered.

In many cases this is Greece. However, since 2011 the European Court of Human Rights has banned other EU countries from sending asylum-seekers back to Greece due to the poor conditions in the country’s asylum reception centres.      

Conditions on the Greek Islands were of particular concern to the European Court of Human Rights.

Many migrants enter the EU via Greece. Many hundreds of thousands of refugees from countries such as Syria and Afghanistan arrived on Greek islands such as Lesbos and Kos on boats from near-by Turkey. The islands are unable to cope with the influx and consequently conditions in migrant camps there are often dire.  

However, condition on the Greek mainland have improved and now asylum-seekers can be sent back there again.

Speaking on VRT Radio 1’s morning news and current affairs programme ‘De Ochtend’ the Federal Secretary of State responsible for asylum and migration Theo Francken said that. “There has been a clear improvement. Europe has also invested heavily, Greece receives financial support, including from us, in order to improve conditions”.    

"We are now going to look into have we can start sending them back”.

However, Mr Francken wouldn’t be drawn on how many people will be sent back. “Dozen definitely, hundreds hopefully”, he said.

"Greece will be able to manage this. Countries such as Belgium, Germany and a couple of other will be to send refugees back as we have always helped Greece when it was in difficulty. There are still people from Fedasil there helping out”.   

The refugees that are sent back will be looked after on the Greek mainland, near Athens.