Jonas Roosens

Plans for asylum shake-up revealed

Belgian asylum and migration secretary Nicole de Moor (Flemish Christian democrat) wants to set up a new unitary migration service.  Her aim is to get operations to move more smoothly.  At present too many bodies are involved in the process she says.

Asylum seekers in Belgium first need to register with the Immigration or Aliens department in Brussels.  Their dossier is then examined by the office of the commissioner general for refugees and the stateless.  A third agency, Fedasil, is responsible for providing accommodation and board. Each agency has its own job to do.

It's a situation that developed over the years, but Ms de Moor says that today who does what isn’t always very logical. A lack of staff and the fact that not everything has been digitised complicate matters further. Recent queues at the Klein Kasteeltje registration centre in Brussels have spurned the secretary to action.

Ms de Moor is making her recommendations on the basis of an audit commissioned by her predecessor.  “A unitary body for the entire country is definitely feasible.  Our staff deserve the tools and structures to do their work properly”.

The audit identifies problems with internal communication between the various agency departments that currently sometimes still occurs on paper.

Ms de Moor insists that the recognition procedure must remain independent: “It’s not up to politicians to decide whether somebody is safe in their country of origin or not”.

The junior minister concedes that setting up the new unitary agency will take time but is eager to press ahead with some of the audit recommendations as soon as possible: more flexible staffing policies allowing quicker recruitments and greater digitalisation.

The opposition is unhappy Ms de Moor has spoken to the press about the audit and her plans before addressing parliament.  Ms de Moor says she’s not obliged to comment on the audit in parliament but will be doing so today.     

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