Benelux expel refugees on joint charter flight
9 March 2004
BRUSSELS – Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg on Tuesday used a jointly chartered aircraft to expel 50 Albanian citizens who had had their requests for political asylum turned down in the three countries.
The Airbus took off from Melsbroek airport near Brussels on Tuesday morning and was due to arrive in the Albanian capital Tirnana later in the day.
Belgian Interior Minister Patrick Dewael said on Tuesday that the operation marks the first time the three Benelux countries have worked together to expel illegal immigrants by air.
The flight is also the first forced repatriation Belgium has been involved in since 1998 when police officers killed Nigerian asylum seeker Semira Adamu as they tried to bundle her on to a plane back to her home country.
Adamu died from suffocation after officers tried to placate her by forcing a cushion over her mouth.
Last December a Brussels court convicted four former police officers who carried out the failed repatriation of assault, battery and negligence.
Meanwhile, a report published by the European Commission this week found that Belgians are among Europe’s most sceptical citizens when it comes to the question of immigration.
The study found that a majority of European citizens, 56 percent, believe the European Union needs immigrants to help reinforce certain sectors of the continent’s economy.
But most Belgians think the opposite. According to the survey, 53 percent of Belgians believe their country needs no immigrant labour.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Belgian news