Nine point plan to tackle the issue of transit migration

The Interior Minister Jan Jambon and the Federal Secretary of State responsible for asylum and migration Theo Francken (both Flemish nationalist) have drafted a list of nine measures intended to address the issue of transit migration. Transit migrants are migrants that are in Belgium illegally on their way to the UK.  

1. National administrative centre

It is the aim that in future all individual that are found to be in Belgium illegally and are on their way to the UK will be taken to a new national administrative centre that will be integrated into the existing secure migrant facility at Steenokkerzeel in Flemish Brabant.  

According to Mr Jambon’s office "Initially only groups of transit migrants that are intercepted during large-scale operations will be taken there. However, it is the intention that in the short term all transit migrants that are detained by the local or federal police, wherever in country, will be taken there”.  

The centre will be staffed by officers from the federal police 24/7.

Administrative formalities will be completed at the centre and finger prints taken. The migrant’s mobile phone traffic will also be checked in an effort to track down members of people trafficking gangs.

Those taken to the centre may also be locked up awaiting a decision on their fate by the Aliens’ Office.

"This will take a substantial amount of work away from the local police services”.

The Federal Police will provided extra vehicles and the Army will provide a bus that will run between Brussels and Zeebrugge to help the police transport the migrants.

2. Capacity secure centres to be doubled

In the short term the measures provide for a doubling of 7the number of beds at secure migrant facilities from 70 to 160 beds. The extra beds will be specifically for transit migrants.  

Mr Francken intends to create even more beds in the medium term with a plan that he intends to put before the Federal Cabinet. From the secure centres the transit migrants will be either sent back to their countries of origin or to the first Shengen Area country they entered en route to Belgium.

More police checks

There are also to be more police checks along the routes used by transit migrants. In future, aall operations against human traffickers and issues caused by the presence of transit migrants will be coordinated. The provincial Governors will be given the task of helping local mayors to put the Federal Government’s policies into practice.

All provinces will be involved. However, as the problem is most acute in West Flanders, the province’s Governor Carl Decaluwé has been told to start straight away. The governors will work together one-on-one with the Federal Police’s provincial Director-Coordinators.  

There will also be daily operation undertaken by the maritime, railway and highways police. A single Federal Police National Coordinator will report to the Interior Minister.  

The Maximiliaan Park

Mr Jambon will begin talks will the Mayor of Brussels Philippe Close (Francophone socialist) about taking action as quickly as possible about the large number of transit migrants in the Maximiliaan Park near to Brussel-North Station.  

"The situation whereby gangs of people smugglers are able to find their victims so close to the station”, a spokesperson for Mr Jambon said.

Unmask and dismantle people smuggling gangs

Mr Jambon also stresses the importance of redoubling efforts to identify and dismantle people smuggling gangs. He is to look into how it can be achieved with the Justice Minister Koen Geen (Flemish Christian democrat).  

 

Security at Zeebrugge docks

Action will be taken straight away to improve security at the port of Zeebrugge. Mr Jambon and Mr Francken will pay a working visit Zeebrugge on Wednesday. The Interior Minister Crisis Centre was already given the task looking into what additional measures can be taken to increase security at the port.  

More intense cooperation with the UK

Mr Jambon’s office says that there have already been talks with British official about additional security measures in Belgium. Last Friday a meeting was held to prepare for a meeting with the British Foreign Minister. Increasing the presence of the British border police both in Zeebrugge and inland at parking areas along the motorways.    

Security at motorway parking areas

The Federal Police will increase the number of checks carried out at motorway parking areas. The Flemish Transport Minister Ben Weyts will order the installation of extra CCTV cameras and fencing as part of measures to prevent transit migrants and people smugglers from using motorway parking areas.

Dissuasion campaign

Campaigns to dissuade potential transit migrants from coming here in the first place will be identified. In the short term a social media campaign will be launched this week.   

In the medium term (from next month or from November an online campaign will be launched aimed at would-be transit migrants that are still in their home countries or in camps in transit countries.