Belgium has announced that it has stopped receiving single males in the national network providing reception for asylum seekers, preferring to “reserve all available places for families with children”.
Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration Nicole de Moor announced that, given the growing number of families and children arriving seeking asylum in Belgium, she wished to avoid children ending up on the streets in the winter months.
“Not wanting to be behind events, I am already taking the decision to reserve all available places for families with children,” Ms de Moor said in a statement.
“The high number of asylum seekers arriving in our country over the last two years is still putting a strain on the reception network,” she explained.
“We continue to open new centres, but last year everyone saw how difficult it is to create reception places. I absolutely want to avoid children ending up on the streets.”
Secretary de Moor told Radio 1: “We have long given priority to families with children. But we have seen an increase in the number of people applying for asylum in the last period. To avoid that we can no longer take care of families with children, I have decided that we will temporarily not take care of single men.”
“There are already about 2,000 single men on the waiting list, according to the State Secretary. ‘But children also arrive in our country every day, with or without parents. I want to avoid seeing children in a cardboard box in the near future,” she said according to De Standaard.
She did not say how long the decision to suspend the services – provided by the Fedasil network, the government agency supporting of asylum seekers – was expected to last.
However, Ms De Moor also said that she believed that Belgium was doing more than its fair share in accepting migrants in comparison to other countries in the European Union.
“Our country has been doing more than its fair share for a long time. This cannot go on any longer, because this year, 19,000 asylum seekers registered in Belgium, compared with 1,500 in Portugal, a country that has a similar population to Belgium,” she said.
Ireland has seen a massive jump in those claiming to seek asylum in recent times, along with hosting more than 80,000 Ukrainians. Last week, it was announced that “Ukrainian refugees are to be housed in tents due to a shortage of accommodation, with the State set to run out of beds for new arrivals by the end of this month.”
Shortages of accommodation for asylum seekers has also led to controversy, with local communities protesting against centres opened in their area without consultation. There has been particular objection to single males, especially those without identifying papers, arriving in large numbers in such centres.
Figures released from International Protection Accommodation Services (IPAS) show that the largest group of those arriving in high numbers claiming asylum in Ireland each week are single males.