Half of Antwerp of foreign heritage

For the first time more people living in the city of Antwerp are of foreign heritage than are not.  It's above all among the young that we find greater diversity. Among under-elevens three-quarters have parents who are not of Belgian heritage. In some parts it's even higher.

527,461 people are now registered as living in Antwerp.  The figure is 3,000 up on the year.  The figure is expected to continue to grow in coming years rising up to 30,000 units.

To be precise 49.9% of Antwerpers are of foreign heritage.  The largest group of people of foreign descent hail from North Africa.  People of Asian and West European extraction are also well represented.

The rise in the number of people of foreign descent is linked to higher birth figures.  Social affairs city cabinet member Tom Meeuws believes it's important not to respond in an uptight fashion: "We're talking about people from all kinds of horizons.  It's very varied.  These are all people whose dreams are located in Antwerp."

"All these Antwerpers are 100% Antwerper."

Mr Meeuws believes the work isn't finished.

"There is still a large flow of refugees.  People are coming in ever larger numbers."

Fresh arrivals will have to be taught the language and receive guidance.  A considerable effort is still needed on the part of the authorities.

The city cabinet member urges greater co-operation with outlying towns, where mayors may be concerned about an influx of people of foreign heritage.

"I hear some municipalities are against a tram line because they are scared.  This isn't about migration.  If you share the same soil, you belong here."