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Federal Buildings Authority to open real estate assets to Ukrainian refugees

Illustration picture shows people waiting outside a centre for the registration and shelter of Ukrainian refugees, inside the former Jules Bordet hospital in Brussels Tuesday 08 March 2022. (BELGA PHOTO HATIM KAGHAT)
06:01 15/03/2022

The Federal Buildings Authority, the body in charge of Belgium’s real estate portfolio, will make its unoccupied properties available to the city’s municipalities to help them accommodate Ukrainian refugees, secretary of state Mathieu Michel announced on Monday.

In the short term, to alleviate the emergency, the authority can make available about 50 housing units for the cities and municipalities concerned. It may also make certain administrative buildings available. But these are barely, if at all, adapted to residential occupation, said the secretary of state.

In the medium and long term, the authority could, depending on the needs, make available nearly 1,000 housing units, totalling 54,000m² of covered areas and 60 hectares of land. Some plots assigned for construction projects such as the Zandvliet and Jumet sites, could be quickly adapted to accommodate nearly 600 people. The authority is also looking to source temporary structures such as large tents, as well as sanitary units and mobile kitchens for the sites.

However, the plan is not without problems due to the current shortage of labour and materials.

"The reception of Ukrainian refugees is an important challenge for our country,” Michel said in a statement. “In this context, support for cities and municipalities is essential. Because, once again, they are on the frontline in the management of a major crisis. Even if the federal government does not have jurisdiction over housing, I believe it is our duty to show institutional solidarity."

Meanwhile, the Red Cross is significantly expanding its capacity for emergency shelter for Ukrainian refugees. By Wednesday, it will create 1,500 reception places in a former Electrabel office building on Avenue Ariane in Woluwe-Saint-Lambert.

Currently, the Red Cross is already helping to receive about 150 Ukrainian refugees in a former residential care centre in Molenbeek on behalf of Fedasil, which is responsible for the reception of asylum seekers. The refugees received are Ukrainians who were already registered in the centres in the former Jules Bordet hospital or in Heysel and who could not immediately get shelter through friends or family, or through the cities and municipalities.

Fedasil's current emergency shelter in Molenbeek can accommodate up to 250 people. The Red Cross wants to prepare for a much larger influx of refugees. At the request of Fedasil, the organisation is now setting up an emergency shelter in Woluwe-Saint-Lambert "for a longer period of time." This new centre will have a capacity of 1,500 people.

"The intention of the emergency shelter remains that people stay there for one to a maximum of two days and then move on to the cities and municipalities," the Red Cross said.

For the new centre, the Red Cross is looking for 70 employees, such as reception staff, supervisors and logistics staff. It's organising a job day in the building on Avenue Ariane on Friday for this purpose.

Written by Nick Amies



The Government is exploring whether Ukrainian refugees could be housed in the mansions of sanctioned Russian oligarchs, Downing Street has said. tellthebell

Mar 15, 2022 09:53