Limit on hotel beds for Belgium's asylum seekers

15th July 2009, Comments 0 comments

As the search for a new compromise on Belgium's asylum policy continues behind the scenes in government circles, great confusion surrounded the accommodation offered to asylum seekers this week.

Fedasil, the government agency that provides accommodation for asylum seekers, has reopened its doors. The agency closed last week because it was unable to cope with asylum numbers.

New arrivals were sent on to a room in a hotel on Monday, but there was confusion about the number of hotel beds available.

By Tuesday morning Marie Arena (Francophone Socialist) the Federal Minister charged with providing accommodation for asylum seekers had clarified the situation.

Only 700 people will receive accommodation in hotels. Fedasil is only allowed to book an extra hotel room if the asylum seekers take the matter to court and a magistrate imposes a fine.

On Monday evening Fedasil had been sending people to hotel rooms above this limit. The agency was informed that was not what was expected.

Mieke Candaele, the head of Fedasil, told the VRT: "If  700 beds are filled, the limit has been reached and then there is a problem."

Fedasil is giving priority to the most urgent cases, to the ill and elderly.

Ms Candaele acknowledged that the 700 bed figure was also good news: "It means that for the first time there is recognition that there is a limit to the number of people we can accommodate."

Fresh consultations are planned between Fedasil and Ms Area in the course of today.

Later this week government leaders meet to update Belgian asylum policy.


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