Belgium: Up to 70 Per Cent of ‘Child’ Migrants Given Age Tests Turn Out to Be Adults

Illustration shows the conditions of waiting outside for asylum seekers in front of the 'Klein Kasteeltje - Petit Chateau' (Little Castle) Fedasil registration center for asylum seekers in Brussels, Wednesday 01 December 2021. Several humanitarian organizations denounce the fact that people are sleeping in the streets due to a lack …
HATIM KAGHAT/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images

Sammy Mahdi, Belgium’s Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration, has stated that up to 70 per cent of “child” migrants submitted for age testing by the government turn out to be adults.

Mahdi commented this week on the situation regarding so-called unaccompanied minors after it was revealed that a migrant arrival centre run by the Federal Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (Fedasil) in Brussels had become so overwhelmed that it was not able to accept some migrants, with around 15 being turned away for the first time since 2015.

“I have specifically asked Fedasil to accommodate all minors. This situation is unacceptable and I will personally ensure that their reception is respected. Better to take an adult’s bed, than not to have a bed at all,” Mahdi said, according to a Sudinfo report.

“In the meantime, the Guardianship Service must urgently do what is expected of it: carry out age tests. In case of doubt, 70 per cent of them turn out to be adults. But if we have to wait months for an answer, these adult asylum seekers will take the place of the children,” Mahdi added.

A total of 3,018 minor migrants have registered with Fedasil this year and 1,991 have undergone age testing, with 70 per cent of them being revealed to be adults.

So far this year, statistics indicate that around a third of all asylum seekers in the Fedasil reception network are minors or alleged minors — a huge increase since 2019, when they made up just nine per cent of those in the reception centres.

The phenomenon of child migrants turning out to be adults has been seen in many countries across Europe since the height of the 2015 migrant crisis.

In 2019, Swedish authorities suggested that just ten per cent of Moroccan migrants who had come to Sweden in prior years and claimed to be underage were actually minors.

Last year, the French department of Côte-d’Or reported similar statistics, claiming just 20 per cent of migrant minors who arrived in 2019 were telling the truth about their age.

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