Belgian army to stop expelling illegals
14 May 2004
BRUSSELS – The Belgian army will for the time being stop using its aircraft to expel illegal immigrants, Belgian Defence Minister Andre Flahaut has announced.
Flahaut made the announcement on Friday and the move means two expulsion flights planed for the coming week will be cancelled.
According to Belgian news agency Belga, Flahuat’s private office says the decision is linked to staffing problems.
The army apparently does not have the personnel free to carry out the flights.
A large number of Belgian soldiers are currently serving overseas and those that are working in Belgium will next month be granted time off in lieu of overtime hours worked, Flahuat’s office is reported to have said.
But other analysts argue the decision is an political move by Flahaut ahead of next month’s European and regional elections.
Flahaut is a socialist and forced repatriations are not popular with many of his core voters.
In addition Belgian Interior Minister Patrick Dewael has said he is keen to find alternative methods for sending illegal immigrants home from Belgium, arguing that in his view army flights are not the best option.
[Copyright Expatica 2004]
Subject: Belgian news