Sophie Kip

“Politicians created crisis in processing asylum seekers” says lawmaker

Flemish green lawmaker Wouter De Vriendt has denied that there is an asylum crisis.  The ecologist politician prefers to speak of a crisis in the way asylum seekers are being cared for.

 

Earlier the former asylum secretary, Flemish nationalist Theo Francken, referred to an asylum crisis now the tally of monthly applications is approaching 3,000 and a further 10,000 applications still need to be processed.

 Wouter De Vriendt: “I comprehend the disquiet, but at the height of the asylum crisis in 2015 there were 5,000 applications a month.  The present crisis is one about how we take care of asylum seekers and is one created by politicians.”

“Processing an asylum request takes 15 months.  It used to take 9 months. The Office of the Commissioner-General for Refugees and Stateless Persons (which processes applications) works with 100 fewer employees than in 2016.  There is a bottleneck and it takes time before a dossier is dealt with.”

Mr De Vriendt points to the reduction in the number of reception places that has fallen from 35,000 in 2016 to 16,500 last year: “The minute there is a peak, there are problems” he told VRT Radio.

The lawmaker is also worried about the way language is used to set people against each other: “Asylum seekers are treated like criminals that we need to defend ourselves against. Stories about rape and theft prove to be unfounded when the facts are checked. ”

Mr De Vriendt supports a European approach that allows refugees plucked from the Mediterraneum to be accommodated in various EU states.