Aliens' Office still intends to house families with children at centre next to airport

The Federal Asylum and Migration Department hopes that the installation of sound insolation in the living quarters at the secure migrant facility at Steenokkerzeel (Flemish Brabant) will mean that the facility can continue to be used to house families with children. The Council of State ruled as the centre is adjacent to Belgium’s biggest airport and those detained there are subject to considerable noise nuisance from aircraft, young children could only be detained there for very short periods of time. 

Since September of last year the Aliens’ Office has detained families of undocumented migrants in specially constructed living quarter units on the site of the 127bis secure migrant facility. However, earlier this month the Council of State annulled a number of articles of the government ruling that lays out the conditions under which migrants can be detained at secure facilities.     

The Council of State ruled that very young children can only be held at facilities where they are exposed to serious noise nuisance if it is for “an extremely short period”. As minors could be detained in the 127bis centre with their families for as long as a month, the Council of State says that this is not the case there.   

After having read the Council of State’s ruling the Asylum and Migration Minister Maggie De Block (Flemish liberal) and the Aliens’ Office told the daily ‘De Standaard’ that they still plan to house families awaiting deportation at the centre.  

The Aliens’ office spokesman Geert De Vulder told the paper that “Another location for families is not an option at the moment”.

The Aliens’ Office is looking into improving sound insolation at the units by for example installing sound-reducing ventilation grills.