Kurt Desplenter

Bruges Mayor can hardly cope, asks federal help in transmigrants issue

The Bruges Mayor Renaat Landuyt is requesting the help of the federal authorities to clamp down on the rising number of so-called transmigrants in Zeebrugge, a municipality belonging to Greater Bruges. 

Transmigrants are refugees coming to Belgium who are using Belgium as a hub to get into another country, mostly Britain. Last month, over 320 of them were apprehended in the port of Zeebrugge, a number which is 100 percent up on the year. Landuyt says more police officers are needed and he is pressing for more reception centres to tackle the issue. 

In July, 328 transmigrants were arrested in Zeebrugge, almost double the number of last year

"We have two mounted police officers, and marine police are also doing their best but they are overworked. Meanwhile, we are not hearing anything from the federal police", says Landuyt. "Every two weeks, we stage a major sweep, but we are short of beds in reception centres to keep those who have to leave the country in custody. This is why I am asking for more accommodation capacity."

Landuyt claims that almost every day, local business in the port are being confronted with damage to infrastructure to keep migrants out, like fences. 

Interior Minister Jan Jambon says extra staff was sent to West Flanders earlier. If this would not be sufficient, local police can always ask for extra help, but this (official) request has not yet come, he added.