Study into vulnerable persons with specific reception needs (Fedasil)

In 2015 the Study and Policy Unit from the Federal  Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers, started with a study into vulnerable persons with specific reception needs. The first phase of this study has been completed.


Vulnerability within reception is not a new issue. The Belgian reception law of 2007, explicitly acknowledges the need for better protection of vulnerable persons who request international protection. We can observe that this issue has come under much more scrutiny in recent years. At the level of Community law for example, reception agencies of European Member States are required to take account of the situation and the needs of vulnerable persons who request international protection. Various Belgian and European legal instruments thus anticipate the establishment of mechanisms to identify vulnerabilities, and to take account of specific needs by ensuring dignified reception which is adapted to the identified vulnerabilities. The legal frameworks therefore appear to be rather favourable for vulnerable persons (or persons at risk of vulnerability) within the reception, and the observed standards for their protection are relatively high. However, an assessment of this issue has still not been made by FEDASIL untill now.

The Study into vulnerable persons with specific reception needs has therefore set itself the initial objective of establishing a detailed picture of the way in which the reception network applies the protective provisions with regard to the identification of vulnerable persons and the extent to which the particular needs or requirements of these residents are taken into account.

The first phase of the study

The study is carried out in two phases which comprise different activities, and of which four have so far been carried out: a literature study, a legal analysis, observations and exploratory discussions, and a survey. Besides obtaining a more qualitative insight into the practices in the field (through observation and exploratory discussion), the study also aims to collect more quantitative data. This was done via a survey. The compiled survey was addressed to social workers and health workers (doctors, nurses and psychologists) who are active within the Fedasil reception facilities and Fedasil’s reception partners. Thanks to their regular contact with residents, they are a source of useful information for the questions which are posed as part of the study.

Based on these activities, a synthesis report was drafted with the main findings of the first phase of the study.

The next phase

In 2017 the second part of the study will start. Two activities are planned, namely interviews and an analysis of European practices. The aim of the interviews is to allow three different actors to express their thoughts. We will firstly focus on what staff from the reception facilities (social workers and health workers) have to say. Secondly, we will also let the residents of the reception facilities themselves have their say, and we will try to assess how they value the attention given to their specific needs within the reception. Finally, we would also like to highlight the experiences and practices of external organisations which, whether or not mandated by the Agency, are specialised in the housing and guidance of vulnerable persons.  However, the study is not limited to Belgian practices. One component of the study will in fact consist of an analysis of the practices of various European countries.

On the basis of the results of this large scale study, we intend to formulate recommendations for improving the reception conditions of vulnerable persons with specific reception needs.

Publication Date:
Mon 06 Feb 2017
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