Fedasil’s resettlement programme for asylum seekers and refugees has only accepted 17 people so far this year, falling well short of its 2022 target.
The state agency for processing asylum claims in Belgium struggles with administrative issues and the increasing number of requests, driven by the ever-growing number of people needing assistance and support worldwide.
The agency has cited a shortage of accommodation for asylum seekers arriving in Belgium as the main issue. This has “paralysed” the entire asylum process for some months, despite Belgium having committed to receiving 1,250 people in 2022.
Current policy allows people already exiled from their home country to seek asylum in Belgium. For example, a Syrian temporarily residing in Lebanon can resettle in Belgium according to specific criteria, notably vulnerability.
The assessment of the criteria takes place before arrival; this means that once in Belgium, asylum seekers have the certainty of obtaining a residence permit. In the vast majority of cases, asylum seekers stay several weeks in a Fedasil centre.
But with, reception centres are oversaturated and struggling with understaffing. This has resulted in only 17 asylum seekers having been resettled in 2022. Nine were Syrian refugees from Jordan, and eight were Turkish refugees coming from Zambia.
“People who arrive alone are taken care of by associations; they do not go through the Fedasil network like big groups,” said Benoît Mansy, Fedasil spokesperson. “We want to resume the normal programme as soon as possible, but we don’t yet know when.”