An illegal migrant sleeping place in a tunnel under the railway tracks of the South Station, in Brussels, Belgium. EPA-EFE/OLIVIER MATTHYS


Belgian Government set to face court over ban on shelter for single male migrants


Eight organisations have filed an urgent request for suspension with the Council of State, the supreme administrative court of Belgium, against the recent decision by State Secretary for Asylum and Migration Nicole De Moor to cease providing shelter to single male asylum seekers.

The organisations’ lawyer said De Moor’s move is illegal, and accused her of knowing that. He said he expected the court to take up the case in the next few days.

According to one of the plaintiffs – Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen, or Refugee Aid Flanders – such single men would not have to sleep on the streets if the Belgian Government were to implement two existing measures: the Shelter Act and the so-called distribution plan.

In a statement, Refugee Aid Flanders further called the decision “a dangerous precedent”.

“If this instruction is passed, the practice for which the government has already been condemned thousands of times will suddenly become official policy. Shelter, having a roof over one’s head, will no longer be a right but a privilege.”

It said suitable shelter was already very hard to secure as the average waiting time for men is four months, and many end up squatting or homeless.

“This measure appears to be primarily intended as a deterrent, with the hope of reducing the number of asylum applications in Belgium compared to our neighbouring countries. This is a cynical and unlawful policy,” Refugee Aid Flanders said.

On August 31, De Moor announced she had decided that single male asylum seekers would no longer receive shelter.

She called the move a “necessary measure” stating the Belgian authorities could no longer process the huge inflow of asylum seekers. De Moor wants the focus to be on families with children.

She said it was a decision she did not want to take but said she was determined to avoid a situation that saw children ending up on the streets.

Her move was badly received by Belgian “green” groups. On September 6, Ecolo party co-chair Rajae Maouane referred to it as “a regrettable decision and one that we find completely unacceptable”.