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Asylum seekers in Brussels squat win legal action against Belgian state
A group of about 80 asylum seekers who have been occupying a squat on Rue de la Loi have won their court case against the Belgian state and its migration authority, Fedasil.
A Brussels court has ordered Belgium and Fedasil to guarantee decent living conditions for the asylum seekers, the group's lawyer announced.
The 80 migrants have been occupying a building next to the CD&V headquarters since 23 April, unable to get a place in a Fedasil centre to which they are legally entitled.
The court ordered Belgium “to ensure the daily and effective provision of showers in the vicinity of the building, the provision of clothing, blankets, sheets, mattresses, the daily provision of three meals a day, urgent medical assistance and urgent medical care for the applicants who show signs of scabies, physical and/or psychological suffering”.
The Belgian state and Fedasil are also obliged to “pay a penalty of €100 per day per asylum seeker if this specific order is not complied with within three days of its service”.
Belgium is obliged by law to immediately review applications for asylum seekers, but the government has failed to do so for months due to the overwhelming number of migrants and a lack of resources, prompting a migration crisis.
“This ruling confirms what the state secretary has been saying for a long time, namely that every asylum seeker who registers is entitled to a reception place,” said Sieghild Lacoere, spokesperson for state secretary for asylum and migration Nicole de Moor (CD&V).
"The state secretary has never stopped looking for reception places and is still committed to this together with Fedasil. She is also pushing for longer-term structural solutions.
"Hence, a breakthrough with all member states to reach a common asylum and migration policy was crucial in June, now this needs to be further negotiated with the European parliament."
This is not the first time that refugees have taken their case to the courts, but Refugee Council Flanders calls the recent win “the most powerful verdict” to date.
“The court confirms what we have been arguing for a long time: there is no force majeure at all, the government is simply not doing enough to solve the reception crisis,” said director Tine Claus.
“The government is behaving like a stubborn driver ignoring all traffic rules and court rulings.”
Claus said that this had created a situation of impunity where the government says it is doing its best, but refuses to adjust behaviour.
She said she hoped that the government “comes to its senses and address this illegal situation – firstly to give asylum seekers back a dignified existence, and secondly to restore the rule of law”.
Photo: Justin Namur/Belga