Five NGOs open a camp in the heart of Brussels

“Days and nights have gone by, and still no assurance has been given for taking care of people who are sent out into the streets every day, as a result of lacking capacity to house them,” according to a common statement from the five NGOs.

Tents will be erected on Wednesday, November 18, at 6 a.m. in Parc Gaucheret, Brussels, when the NGOs will start construction of 12 family tents and three tents for health care, judicial and social advice, and food support.

Last Friday, the five NGOs urged the involved government ministries to stop avoiding their responsibilities and urgently find an acceptable solution for housing asylum seekers whose applications are being considered. To this day, not a single concrete measure has surfaced. Belgium, like all members countries of the European Union, has a responsibility to provide shelter for men, women, and children who arrive and apply for asylum. Many of them come from countries at war or where there is armed conflict going on.

The shelter crisis has been dragging on for months and is only getting worse. At this moment, more than 1,000 asylum seekers have nowhere to go and survive in the streets, with winter rapidly approaching.

The camp set up by the NGOs is not the answer to this crisis and can only be a temporary measure. Also, it will not have the capacity to give shelter to all who need it. It would be a mistake to see this initiative as a sustainable solution. It is the responsibility of the Belgian government to make the means available for taking care of asylum seekers accurately and respectfully.

The NGOs ask that the government immediately makes vacant buildings available, so to provide housing in a dignified way for those who have not yet found shelter.

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Press Release 12 May 2010