Expatica news

Reporting office for suspicious refugees

9 September 2005

BRUSSELS — The Antwerp social security office OCMW has set up a reporting office where social workers can examine the records of suspicious asylum seekers.

A specially-appointed public servant will pass the details on to the Immigration Service and Belgian judicial authorities, newspaper ‘Het Nieuwsblad’ reported on Friday.

The reporting office was set up after OCMW councillor Marco Laenens complained that some refugees on social security benefits were returning to Afghanistan and Pakistan several times each year.

The travel habits raised concerns the refugees — who have been granted residency in Belgium — are involved in terrorism or the drugs world.

Laenens said the OCMW benefits committee discovered this week another four “travel loving” refugees and asylum seekers from Pakistan and Afghanistan. He said five are discovered every week, adding up to 70 within six months.

The committee can now pass on the names to a special public servant. OCMW social workers can do the same. However, Laenens said the reporting point does not actively search for suspicious refugees, but will instead gather complaints.

The decision to set the reporting point up was taken after an Antwerp City Council meeting.

The judiciary, immigration service, federal police and security service have also promised to exchange information about the suspicious asylum seekers, pending federal government approval.

Laenens was sharply criticised in July after he raised concerns about the travel habits of refugees, but the Antwerp public prosecution office later decided to launch an investigation.

“It remains difficult to defend that people who come here and get OCMW support because they are persecuted in their home country go back there as soon as they all of their papers,” Laenens said.

“How do they pay for that by the way? And these countries are not only known for terrorist training camps. Some 75 percent of the worldwide opium production occurs there.”

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Belgian news