More than 60 transit migrants detained during large-scale operation in West Flanders

A total of 61 transit migrants were detained on Monday night in what was a second large-scale operation against people smuggling in West Flanders. The transit migrants were detained alongside or near to routes leading to the port of Zeebrugge. The operation involved 150 officers from the local and federal police services.

Speaking on Tuesday morning the Governor of West Flanders Carl Decaluwé (Christian democrat) told journalists that although 61 people had been detained “We probably could have detained dozens more, but you need a lot officers to stop such big groups and quite a few migrants were able to escape”.

Among those detained were transit migrants from 15 different countries. In previous operations Eritreans and Kurds made up the lion’s share of those detained. However, this was not the case on Monday.

"It is time for an initial evaluation. The extra capacity with 300 places in Bruges is good. But it still needs to become operational. It takes some time to transfer everyone to the secure centre for illegal immigrants at Steenokkerzeel”, Mr Decaluwé added.