Calais-style migrant camp right in the middle of Brussels
A Calais-style "Jungle" camp has sprung up in the Belgian capital where hundreds of Sudanese and Eritrean migrants have been camping out in a Brussels park waiting to get into Britain.
Published: August 30, 2017, 2:17 pm
Médecins du Monde, the Belgium humanitarian association, says there are some 600 migrants squatting in the park currently. A few weeks ago, only “dozens” of migrants were reported in the area.
Tourists fear for their safety and have reported a sanitation hazard as migrants use the park’s fountain for ablutions and a toilet. Empty cans and a few SIM card holders litter the lawn. Playground barriers are used to hang laundry on.
Theo Francken, the Belgian Secretary of State have said that “illegals who do not want asylum in Belgium” do not deserve any attention. Francken called them “Dublin cases”, a reference to the Dublin agreement which means migrants have to claim asylum in the first country they arrive in.
The park, located near from the Bruxelles-Midi Eurostar station has led worries that migrants will board UK-bound trains, as has happened previously in Paris. Police regularly clear migrants from the train tracks, according to French daily Le Figaro.
Police have meanwhile admitted they are making around 100 arrests a week at the Belgian port of Zeebrugge, which offers direct ferry services to Hull in the UK every day.
For the past month, an NGO collective has been sounding the alarm about the Maximilian Park chaos, and called on politicians to act “so that Brussels does not become a new Calais”.
But their request for the opening of a formal reception center, with care and legal advice, is being ignored.
At the end of July a 17-year-old Sudanese teenager was fatally wounded in Brussels, trying to hang onto a bus. It was the first accident in the capital since the beginning of the migratory crisis in 2015.
Meanwhile France has announced the construction of two new migrant centres in Troisvaux and Bailleul, two small towns near Calais. Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said each one will have a capacity of 300.
But Calais’ Mayor Natacha Bouchart said she would ignore the order. “The decision by the Council of State is unfair to the people of Calais because it threatens them with the emergence of yet another Jungle.
“In the absence of a national and European policy offering a global solution on controlling immigration, Calais will not implement the injunctions,” Bouchart said in a statement.
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