In recent weeks Belgium has witnessed a rise in the number of migrants seeking residence, especially Afghans, and the Belgian Immigration Office is struggling to cope.
Speaking to the Flemish Radio and Television Broadcasting Organisation, the Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons discussed the growing migrant situation in Belgium, reports Flanders News. Dirk Van den Bulck said:
“In the last couple of days we have had an increasing number of people coming from Afghanistan. We also see that many try to present themselves as minors, while in fact they are not. But this being said, we are receiving quite a number of minors.
“Afghanistan is clearly a war-torn country where the situation is problematic. But the situation is not such that all Afghans need shelter in a different country.”
Mr. Van den Bulck heads the Belgian Immigration Office which determines whether migrant applicants qualify for refugee status, subsidiary protection status, or warrant no protection at all. He has been advocating for a new campaign to deter Afghans from coming to Belgium.
Mr. Van den Bulck believes it is better that potential Afghan migrants are persuaded not to make a long journey unless they can prove they are likely to suffer persecution or serious harm, as many who arrive in Belgium turn out not to qualify for protection.
This particular approach to deterring migrants was previously used successfully to reduce the number of Iraqi asylum seekers. It’s application saw a significant drop in the number of Iraqis seeking protection in Belgium.
Speaking to Belgian Radio 1, Mr. Van den Bulck appealed for more resources to add to recent increases in his staff numbers needed to cope with the growing migrant numbers.
He said that in 2015 there have already been many more asylum applications submitted than last year. In October alone 4,800 applications were made, with 59 per cent of them being successful.
Despite that 480 migrants were turned away yesterday, having been asked to come back to the Immigration Office at a later stage. The registration backlog is now more than 1,000 people strong.
Describing the migrant crisis as a “huge challenge” for Belgium, Mr. Van den Bulck also looked elsewhere, urging that relief efforts should be directed to equip camps in the Balkans and Greece for winter conditions.