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Asylum agency piles up 740 convictions

So far this year the Belgian asylum agency Fedasil has been convicted on 740 occasions for failing to provide board and lodging for asylum seekers, which it is obliged to do by law. Since the beginning of the year the refugee organisation Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen has been helping asylum seekers to secure their rights.

Fedasil has been struggling to accommodate asylum seekers since September.  The average asylum seeker will require board and lodging for 18 months, the time it now takes for an application to be processed. 

Every day new asylum applications are being added to the queue.  Asylum secretary Mahdi says the authorities are prioritising the most vulnerable applicants, families with children and people with medical issues. Asylum seekers who were registered in another EU country before arriving here can look forward to seeing their application rejected.

By law nobody is prioritised.  All have a right to board and lodging but in reality, many men end up on the streets. Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen is determined to tackle this crisis and has now secured 740 rulings in its favour. Joost Depotter: “It’s wrong that the authorities are waiting to confer a basic right until you take the matter to court”.

The Brussels labour court that has to process the cases is sounding the alarm too.  In a normal year it deals with 50 cases.  In only a couple of months 1,000 cases have been filed.

Depotter speaks of a political problem: “In Flanders alone 12,000 reception places have been created for Ukrainian refugees.  Many are not being used.  Why not use them for asylum seekers?” he says.

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