Debate in Parliament about transit migrants in Maximilian park and identification Sudanese
In the summer of 2017, more and more transit migrants, who wish to go to the UK, were staying in the Maximilian park in Brussels. The Belgian government did not want this park to become ‘a new Calais’. A number of transit migrants were intercepted and detained. Because a lot of them were presumed Sudanese, a Sudanese delegation was invited to come to Belgium for identification. Left-wing politicians and NGOs stressed that the Sudanese regime’s human rights record is particularly worrying. Campaigns were organised to better inform the transit migrants. On 04.10.2017 these issues were debated in the Belgian Parliament.
In the summer of 2017, more and more irregularly staying third-country nationals (TCNs) were staying in the Maximilian park in Brussels. A lot of them were migrants in transit who wished to go to the United Kingdom. For them Brussels was just a ‘pit stop’, and they did not apply for asylum in Belgium.
The Minister-President of the Brussels-Capital Region described the situation in the park as a humanitarian crisis, and proposed the creation of (emergency) accommodation for these transit migrants. But the State Secretary for Asylum Policy and Migration declared that he did not want this park to become ‘a new Calais’, and strongly opposed the idea.
This is why the Belgian authorities ordered the police to carry out checks in and around the park. In September, 275 irregularly staying TCNs were intercepted, and about half of them were detained. As a result the number of irregularly staying TCNs in and around the Maximilian park dropped significantly.
Because a lot of the detained TCNs were presumed Sudanese, the State Secretary invited a Sudanese delegation to come to Belgium and identify their irregularly staying compatriots. The delegation identified (until the 2nd of October) 43 Sudanese nationals (who did not apply for asylum) and issued travel documents for them. The State Secretary emphasised that, for all of them, a verification against article 3 of the ECHR had been carried out. The Belgian Prime Minister backed the State Secretary, and argued that other European countries have also invited Sudanese delegations for identification purposes.
Left-wing politicians of the opposition and NGOs stressed that the Sudanese president has been accused of crimes against humanity, and that the Sudanese regime’s human rights record is particularly worrying. They demanded that the Sudanese are better informed about the possibility to apply for asylum in Belgium, and recalled that Sudanese nationals who apply for asylum in Belgium have a significant chance of being granted refugee status.
A campaign has been launched by Fedasil (the Federal Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers) and the Immigration Office to inform the irregularly staying TCNs in and around the Maximilian park about the possibility to apply for asylum, the right to accommodation during the asylum procedure, the Dublin procedure, the possibility of voluntary return, and the risk of forced return in case of irregular stay. Extra attention was given to vulnerable groups. The UNHCR recently joined this campaign. A new flyer has been produced to better inform the irregularly staying TCNs.
A weekly action by the Guardianship Service (Federal Public Service Justice), together with different NGOs and in collaboration with the Immigration Office and Fedasil, was set up recently. This action aims at reaching and informing the unaccompanied minors and, to guide them to specialised accommodation.