Illegals Occupy Belgian Church for Several Months Demanding Residency

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - JULY 14: For more than fifty days, hundreds of undocumented migrants h
Jean-Christophe Guillaume/Getty Images

Some 50 illegal immigrants who have occupied a church in Brussels, Belgium, demanding residency have complained that now with winter approaching, the church is too cold for them.

Initially, in February, around 200 migrants had occupied the 17th-century St John the Baptist Church in Béguinage in the heart of the Belgian capital, demanding residency. Reports from July revealed the number of squatters had swelled to 450, who had recently given up on a hunger strike that had lasted for 60 days.

The church is still occupied, but the number of migrants has greatly reduced to just around 50, with many abandoning their attempts to force the government to give them residency in Belgium.

Now, as winter weather approaches, some of the migrants have complained about staying in the unheated church, according to a report from the European Union-funded website InfoMigrants.

Nador, a 32-year-old from Morocco, said he has been illegally in Belgium since 2017 and that the cold weather has made it hard to stay there.

Another migrant living in the church, a 43-year-old from Algeria named Kamel, also said that the cold weather had become a major problem, especially at night. “At night here, with the cold, it’s an ordeal,” he said.

Kamel stated that he has been living illegally in Europe for 27 years having originally arrived in Italy by boat. He then settled in the Netherlands but later moved to Belgium.

But despite complaining about the cold weather, he says he does not intend to leave until he gets a response to his residency demands.

Migrants protesting for residency papers have become common in some parts of Europe, such as in France, where the NGO Utopia 56 has organised several occupations of areas in Paris in the last year.

Hunger strikes among migrants are also not an uncommon occurrence. In February, a group of migrants staying in a Reading hotel in the UK engaged in a hunger strike after complaining about the quality of the free food they were being given.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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