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Amnesty International slams Belgium's treatment of asylum seekers

14:11 01/04/2023

Human rights NGO Amnesty International has severely criticised the Belgian government for its neglect of asylum seekers, saying the state has left hundreds of refugees living “without shelter or resources”.

The condemnation came with the release of its annual report on the situation of human rights in the world, which also raised Belgium’s systemic discrimination against foreigners and worsening prison overcrowding as areas of concern.

Philippe Hensmans, director of the Belgian French-speaking section of Amnesty International, said that the Belgian authorities had “let the reception crisis drag on”.

“[The authorities] continue to show themselves to be cruelly unworthy of the values they claim to defend by leaving hundreds of asylum seekers – including children – on the street, without resources, in total contradiction with their obligations relating to the right of asylum and the right of reception,” he said.

The report accused the Belgian government of taking “inadequate” measures to increase its capacity to offer shelter to the asylum seekers who continue to arrive in the country.

Hensmans blamed the state for its role in the forced evictions of asylum seekers living in public buildings, such as in Schaerbeek and Saint-Josse recently.

“If our authorities really want it, they have the necessary resources to welcome these vulnerable people with dignity and thus respect their obligations,” Hensmans said.

Written by Paul Millar