Belgium Rejects Single Male Asylum Seekers

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Citing a shortage of accommodation and a growing number of people seeking shelter, the Belgian government announced on August 29 that all places in reception facilities are to be reserved for families with children who are claiming asylum, and that none will be provided to single men.

As InfoMigrants recalls, the move follows a recent sharp rise in the number of people arriving in Belgium seeking protection, putting pressure on a system which has struggled to cope.

“I want to completely avoid children ending up on the streets in winter,” Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration Nicole de Moor was quoted in the Flemish media as saying, indicating the reason behind the ban.

Interviewed on Flemish public news network VRT, she said the Belgian asylum reception system was still severe pressure, with about 2 000 single men currently on the waiting list.

Severe Backlash From NGOs

Refugee aid groups condemned the government’s decision, the Flemish Refugee Council calling the measures unlawful, incomprehensible and inhumane.

The organization doubts the purpose of keeping families off the streets can be fulfilled: “The available shelters from Federal Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (Fedasil) can now be counted on a few hands.”

According to Fedasil’s website, Belgium has about 100 reception centers in total, providing around 34,000 places for asylum seekers.

Tine Claus, the director of the Refugee Council, told VRT that the need for more accommodation should have been predicted. “The influx is always higher towards the end of summer,” she said.

“To fulfil our humanitarian obligations you could expect policymakers to take proactive action and introduce emergency measures like a dispersal plan [distribution of asylum seekers among municipalities],” Claus concluded.

Policymakers Complain About Disproportionate Pressure

The government has repeated its claim that a lack of organization of European asylum and migration policy is largely to blame for the pressure on Belgium’s asylum system.

“Our country has been doing more than its fair share for a long time. This cannot go on any longer,” the news agency AFP quoted de Moor as saying.

Single Male Asylum Seekers Have Been a Source of Safety Problems in Europe

The potential of male asylum seekers committing crimes has been a central point of focus in European politics as well. Three years ago, the European Commission was addressed with the question.

Elzbieta Kruk, member of the European Conservatives and Reformists group in the European Parliament recalled in her 2020 question, five years after the tragic happenings in Cologne, Germany, that countries with large numbers of newly arrived migrants, such as Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom, were seeing an increase in sexual crimes, including rape, against white women and girls.

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