More than 1,500 people take part in Refugee Walk

More than 1,500 people got up bright and early on Sunday morning to take part in Refugee Work Flanders Refugee Walk. The walk got under way at 8am in Kessel-Lo, near Leuven (Flemish Brabant). This year’s walk is the 4th Refugee Walk to have been organised. A number of well-known Flemings are taking part the in 40-kilometre walk. 

The Director of Refugee Work Flanders Rein Antonissen told VRT News that the record attendance at this year’s walk sends out an important signal to the new Flemish Government to invest in education and housing for refugees and in so doing remove the barriers to their integration into society. 

The Mayor of Leuven Mohamed Ridouani (socialist) fired the starting shot for the walk. He told VRT News that the walk sends out an important sign of solidarity, warmth and concern towards people that need to be given a feeling of hope”.   

Among the well-known Flemings supporting the walk were the footballer Dries Mertens, the singer Daan and the author Kristien Hemmerechts. The 2018 Belgian cross-country champion BelImana Truyers, herself the daughter of a Rwandan refugee, was among the participants.  

Those taking part in the Refugee Walk seek sponsorship. The money they raise from their sponsors goes to projects such as job coaches for refugees and support to organisations that help refugees, lobbying on behalf of refugees….  The around 1,500 participants have raised more than 322,000 euro from around 5,000 sponsors so far. This is a record amount. Last year 1,100 people took part in the Refugee Walk and 254,000 euro was raised.