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Plan to cut financial support for asylum seekers

Published on May 09, 2006

9 May 2006

BRUSSELS — The Belgian government wants to only give asylum seekers material support in future rather than the financial support a large number of them currently receive.

The proposal is part of plans being drawn up by Social Integration Minister Christian Dupont aimed at reforming the way in which asylum seekers are cared for in Belgium.

A request for asylum currently occurs in two phases. A request must first be declared admissible and then a definitive decision must be made whether to declare the asylum seeker a political refugee.

So long as a request for asylum is not declared non-admissible, the asylum seekers are given material support and accommodation in open refugee shelters. 

When their request is declared admissible and subjected to a more thorough investigation, the asylum seekers are given financial support. They are registered with the social security office OCMW, which pays them a minimum wage.

But that financial support will become a thing of the past under Minister Dupont’s plans. The Socialist PS minister only wants to give material support to asylum seekers, irrespective of which phase of the asylum procedure they are in.

The aim of the reform is to ease the burden on large cities, which have complained for years that OMCW offices simply dump asylum seekers on them.

Legislation aimed at improving the spread of asylum seekers around the country has failed to stop them moving to the nation’s larger cities.

Dupont’s reform plan is part of the new asylums procedure legislation drawn up by Interior Minister Patrick Dewael. That legislation stipulates that a decision must be made on an asylum request within one year.

But church sit-in protests or hunger strikes by illegal immigrants demanding official residency are being staged at 25 locations across the country. The protestors are also demanding clearer criteria for asylum procedures.

[Copyright Expatica News 2006]

Subject: Belgian news