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Election2019: "Return refugees to safe areas after five years"

During a debate with far right leader Tom Van Grieken former asylum and migration secretary Theo Francken (Flemish nationalist) set out the stall of policies he hopes to implement after the general election.  With regard to asylum policy Mr Francken favours the creation of a Taskforce Safe Return.  The taskforce could supervise the return of recognised asylum seekers, i.e. refugees, five years after they are recognised.

Until a couple of years ago Belgium was one of the few countries where asylum seekers who were recognised where immediately given permission to stay indefinitely.  The outgoing government limited the duration of their stay.  In practice leave to stay is automatically extended at the end of the first five years.

Mr Francken hopes to introduce more restrictive policies if the N-VA are in government after 26 May. He wants to integrate the immigration department, the office of the commissioner general for refugees and stateless persons and the police in a new Taskforce Safe Return that would organise returns.  He insists that the refugees’ situation should be assessed before their first five years are out.

"The situation in a number of countries, certainly in Iraq, has fundamentally changed."

The taskforce should ensure refugees can return safely to safe areas.  Mr Francken believes people who have been here for four years but haven't become part of wider society should be a priority. 

"The immigration department can evaluate integration on the basis of recommendations from the local authorities and integration services”. 

"It's already in the law.  Let's implement it.  We have to do it.  Some of them must return home."