Geneva – Euro-Med Monitor expresses its deep concern over the situation of asylum seekers in Belgium who are facing a dire lack of adequate housing. We emphasise the importance of ensuring that asylum seekers have access to safe and decent housing, which is essential for their well-being and integration into society.
Last Monday, a protest was organised in Brussels to occupy a public building and demand an emergency solution for around 50 asylum seekers who are currently lacking accommodation. This is just the latest in a long-running accommodation crisis facing asylum seekers in Belgium that must urgently addressed and represents a violation of Belgian law, which requires that authorities provide accommodation to those seeking asylum.
The protesting asylum seekers slept in the street on thin blankets on the cold entrance to the public building they occupied to bring attention to their situation. Some held their official documents to reporters to prove the genuineness of their asylum applications. Amidst dangerously cold temperatures in the streets of Belgium’s Molenbeek area, some asylum seekers started fires on the pavements to keep warm, but police officers ordered them to put the fires out.
“It is inconceivable that one of the richest countries in the world is refusing to provide vulnerable asylum seekers fleeing from persecution with the bare minimum of its obligations under international law,” said Ramy Abdu, Chairman of Euro-Med Monitor, “Belgium has financial resources to ensure safe and adequate shelter to asylum seekers, and it should honor this bare minimum.”
Belgian authorities received significant fines in 5,991 convictions in court and another 1,132 from the European Court of Human Rights for their failure to secure safe and adequate shelter to asylum seekers amounting to at least €275 million at the beginning of March.
The right to adequate housing is a fundamental human right and should be upheld for all individuals, including asylum seekers. Failing to provide adequate housing for asylum seekers violates their human rights and dignity.
Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor calls on the Belgian government to urgently address this issue and ensure that asylum seekers have access to adequate housing and basic services in line with international human rights standards, including healthcare, education, and employment opportunities. Especially for those who are vulnerable, such as women, children, and the elderly.