Every asylum seeker in Belgium – and Europe – should have the right to housing and food, social, legal, medical, psychological and language assistance, as well as an access to education and trainings. But all of that remains theoretical.
In practice, such treatment, which is respectful of human dignity, does not exist in Belgium. Yet social workers and volunteers working in the reception centers are doing a great job with very few resources. However, they are not supported by the government, which is adopting a deterrence policy coupled with a strategic and cynical reduction of its capacities to receive migrants, preventing asylum seekers from being treated with respect for their human dignity.
Secretary of State for Migration and Asylum Theo Francken recently decided to remove 10,000 places in reception centers. His decision is based on figures showing that the number of asylum seekers is increasingly decreasing.
Policy of 'non-anticipation'
But the secretary of sate has a short memory, which is dangerous: the situation was the same last year. As the number of arrivals was decreasing, a plan to remove reception places was launched. But an unanticipated massive arrival of immigrants during the summer required the urgent creation of poor-quality reception places for refugees.
To mark World Refugee Day on June 20, the Belgium League of Human Rights and the Citizen’s Platform for Refugees denounced this policy of "non-anticipation," which does not take into account the devastating impact on asylum seekers.
They also denounced the many shortcomings of the reception of the refugees. In fact, many individual stories have been collected from different Belgium reception centers, all of which show us how the reception provided by Belgium is unworthy of a state that claims to respect human rights.
Theo's report card
June 20 also means the end of the school year, when students receive their school report card. That is why, almost one year after the start of the reception crisis, the Foreigner Commission of the Belgium League of Human Rights and the Citizen’s Platform for Refugees decided to denounce that unacceptable policy by delivering a "report card" to Theo Francken.
Although this "report card" could be considered malicious, it does not take anything away from the dramatic reception of asylum seekers in Belgium. The conclusion of the report card is unmistakable: he can and must do a better job!