Belgian university heads backing regularisation of illegal immigrants
Flemish rectors say that their institutions cannot be removed from society at large.
The rectors of the six Flemish universities have signed a joint declaration in which they call on the Federal Government to implement those parts of the government accord that deal with migration forthwith.
With their move the university heads are backing the efforts of illegal immigrants to secure regularisation in Belgium.
In their declaration the rectors say that the universities cannot ignore the regularisation debate that is underway in society at large.
They note that universities have the duty to be critical of what is happening in society and should also be prepared to criticise the country's political and moral authorities.
In a joint declaration from the Flemish Interuniversity Council (VLIR), universities in Brussels , Ghent, Leuven, Hasselt and Antwerp call for the government urgently to implement the parts of the government accord that deal with immigration.
They say that first and foremost a solution needs to be found for the people who have been staying in our country for a while now, who have children who go to Belgian schools and who play a full role in our society.
Earlier Francophone universities made a similar appeal. Last week several faiths active in Belgium also gave their backing.
Marc Vervenne, the rector of Leuven University, told VRT: "The government accord dates from March 2007. Our demand is: implement it! We encounter a lot of misery among people who have been here for a long time."
"We are not calling for an unfettered regularisation. There are rules and these must be followed."
Belgian Immigration Minister Annemie Turtelboom (Flemish liberal) acknowledges that the issue of illegal immigrants has not yet been sorted. "The government is seeking a compromise (between the various parties) but this has not yet been found."
The Flemish universities intend to continue to liaise in matters regarding accommodation for protesting illegals. Francophone universities too will be consulted.
Halls at the Flemish Free University of Brussels are still being occupied by illegals.
The six Flemish universities say that all universities should respond to requests for support:" When people knock on our door because they see no way out it is our duty to respond and do what is necessary to support them."
Ghent University too is offering accommodation, while other universities are also making preparations to accommodate illegals.