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Brussels opens reception centres as more Ukrainian refugees arrive

06:28 08/03/2022

The temporary reception centre for refugees from Ukraine is now open in the former Jules Bordet hospital, a stone's throw from the Porte de Hal in Brussels. Around 1,500 Ukrainians, fleeing the Russian invasion of their country, queued outside its gates on Monday morning.

The operation of recording the first arrivals went ahead without incident. Groups of 30 to 40 people at a time were allowed to enter the centre where they were met by teams from the Immigration Office. On the third floor of the old hospital, six small cubicles staffed by officials waited to receive the families who took turns to register.

According to a spokesperson for the Immigration Office, between 200 and 300 people were registered on Monday as the services on hand struggled to deal with the unprecedented influx of refugees.

Over the weekend, the Immigration Office registered 699 Ukrainian refugees, of whom 247 applied for and received accommodation through Fedasil. An emergency centre was also opened on Sunday in Molenbeek-Saint-Jean to help cope with the demand.

Twelve days after the start of the Russian invasion, the Russian army tightened its grip on the Ukrainian capital Kyiv and maintained its bombing of the country's second city, Kharkiv. Moscow announced the establishment of a ceasefire on Monday morning and the opening of humanitarian corridors to allow the evacuation of civilians from several cities in Ukraine, including Kyiv.

More than a million and a half people have fled the country to neighbouring countries or Western Europe since the war began.

Written by Nick Amies