Despite the rise in asylum applications during the year as a whole, the number of asylum applications made in December 2018 was 35% lower than in November 2018. In December there were 1,253 asylum applications. Ms De Block’s office says that this is the lowest figure for the month of December since 2008.
In 2018 as a whole 23,443 people asked for asylum in Belgium. This is 19% more than in 2017. The increase was mainly during the second half of the year with the exception of December.
Although reception facilities are under a lot of pressure, all those that have applied for asylum have been given a place to stay while their application is being processed.
Ms De Block told the press agency Belga that "Thanks to the sterling work of all those involved the long queues at Klein Kasteeltje (where asylum applications are made) have been cleared”.
The largest number of asylum-seekers came from Syria (3,702), followed by Palestine (2,468), Afghanistan (2,030) and Iraq (1,758).
The number of Palestinians applying for asylum has risen especially quickly since the summer. The guidelines for Palestinians from the Gaza Strip were modified in December. Since then their asylum applications are no longer accepted almost as a matter of cause.