Kurt Desplenter

Arendonk reception centre has to install extra army tents for asylum seekers

Various new reception centres have been opened over the past year, but there are hardly any places left to accommodate asylum seekers. The situation has become so urgent that the Arendonk centre, which can offer 420 beds, has decided to put up army tents to create 70 extra places, De Morgen writes. Asylum Secretary Maggie De Block says the backlog should be reduced soon. 

Lies Gilis of the Arendonk reception centre underlines that it's a temporary initiative. "We are talking about a couple of weeks. In the meantime, we are looking for place elsewhere; we already found some vacancies in Lommel, Moeskroen, Zaventem, Deurne and Couvin."

However, it's not easy to find extra accommodation, as 94 percent of the total capacity has been taken. The tide is high, but this is not because more asylum seekers are coming in, but because they are staying longer, as they are waiting for a decision by the Belgian authorities. As long as they are waiting, they are entitled to a bed, a shower and some food, labelled the "bed, bad, brood" policy in Dutch.   

Asylum Secretary Maggie De Block (Flemish liberal) explains that "we have a backlog (in treating asylum applications), but new staff is being recruited and trained. Things should improve by October or November."