Pocket-Sized Guide Helps Migrants Claim Their Rights in Belgium

To commemorate the 18th anniversary of the death of a Nigerian woman who was forcibly removed from Belgium, two practical guides have been published to help migrants claim their rights.
Sémira Adamu, a 20-year-old Nigerian woman, was suffocated to death by police officers on a plane that was bringing her back to Nigeria on September 22, 1998.
For 18 years, a number of organizations, including the Belgian League of Human Rights (LDH), have been paying tribute to the memory of Sémira Adamu and to all of those who were exposed to forced evictions when they should have been protected instead, as prescribed by the right of asylum.

This year, LDH chose this highly symbolic day to publish two guides specially intended for migrants who just arrived in Belgium. Indeed, LDH noticed the existence of a vast array of needs and recurring requests by migrant people. These include the access to relevant information regarding their rights.

A labyrinthine place

For those who settle in Belgium and who do not master one of our national languages and our local customs, our country has an institutional, administrative and non-profit landscape that is particularly complex, if not labyrinthine.

The guides will provide migrants relevant information that will help them claim their rights in key areas, including access to healthcare and decent housing.

The League of Human Rights has therefore prepared "Practical and Orientation guides for migrants: find out about one’s rights and claim them." These two guides are directed at migrants who, for some reason, live in Belgium permanently or temporarily.

Based on recognition of the fact that migrants are often exposed to difficult and precarious situations, the guides' purpose is to provide them relevant information that will help them claim their rights in key areas, such as residence applications, access to social and material assistance, healthcare, and decent housing.

Complete or pocket-sized

The first guide, the "complete" guide, is directed to all types of professionals who might meet migrants. Whether they are specialized in the area of immigration or not, this guide offers them a basis of relevant information so they can address the requests that are submitted to them. This guide is already available online.

The second guide, the "pocket-sized guide," is written for migrants and available in both French and English. (Image: Simon Blackley)

The aim of the second guide, the "pocket-sized" guide, is to directly help migrants. It is exclusively based on the useful addresses migrants should know about and the good habits they should acquire. The pocket-sized version will be available in November 2016, in both online and printed versions, in French and English languages.