Record number of refugees set to win residence
12 August 2005
BRUSSELS — Double the amount of asylum seekers in Belgium were recognised as political refugees in the first half of 2005 compared with the same period last year.
If the trend continues, a record number of refugees will be recognised, the Commissionership-General for Refugees and the Stateless (CGVS) said.
The asylum seekers gaining official recognition as refugees primarily come from Chechnya, Rwanda and Serbia and Montenegro, newspaper ‘De Tijd’ reported on Friday.
After a wave of asylum seekers were recognised in 1999, the Belgian government strengthened its asylum policies. The CGVS was processing 35,000 dossiers at that time.
By abolishing financial help for asylum seekers and offering material assistance instead, the number of applications for asylum lodged in Belgium declined markedly.
There were 42,000 requests for asylum in Belgium in 2000, compared with just 15,357 last year.
But despite the decline in asylum applications, the number of asylum seekers recognised as refugees has continued to rise.
In the first six months of this year, some 1,704 asylum seekers were allowed to stay, compared with 839 in the same period last year.
The CGVS recognised 2,275 political refugees in the full 12 months of 2004, compared with 1,201 in 2003, some 1,164 in 2002, a total of 896 in 2001 and 1,198 in 2000.
The refugees admitted to Belgium this year were primarily Russians (736), most of whom were Chechens. They were followed by 263 Rwandans and 93 refugees from Serbia and Montenegro and there were also 93 Congolese, 71 Iranians, 71 Burundians and 54 Chinese.
CGVS director Dirk van den Bulck said the processing of backlogged cases from previous years is the main reason for rising number of refugees being allowed to stay in Belgium.
At the start of January 2005, the CBVS had an arrears of some 20,000 dossiers to process, but this had declined to 14,029 by the end of July.
Van den Bulck predicts that the arrears will be totally removed by the middle of next year, at the latest. He also expects the high number of asylum seekers being awarded official status will continue in the second half of this year.
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Belgian news