"Newcomers waiting over a year for a place on an integration course"

Figures from the integration agency show that nearly 1,600 newcomers have been waiting for a place on a social orientation course for many months.  The course is part of the obligatory integration package of courses that newcomers from outside the EU are obliged to follow when they settle here.

The orientation course is designed to impress on newcomers what their rights and duties are when they settle in Flanders and its capital.  The figures show that 863 newcomers have been waiting for over six months.

Flemish socialist lawmaker Yasmine Kherbache, who asked for the figures: "For one group there is simply no place; they have to wait months, sometimes over a year because no place is on offer."

Ms Kherbache isn't impressed by the argument that that it's because no course in the applicant's mother tongue is available: "The course can also be given in a language that the newcomer understands, Arabic, English or Dutch."

The lawmaker accuses integration minister Homans (nationalist) of trotting out false reasons to excuse the situation.  She believes the real reason is a lack of resources and investment in the integration agency: "The minister is still refusing an external audit."

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