The Prime Minister of Belgium wants to use buildings belonging to the country's Ministry of Defence to house illegal migrants. (Photo by Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images)


Belgian Prime Minister wants to use defence buildings to house migrants


The Prime Minister of Belgium wants to use buildings belonging to the country’s Ministry of Defence to house illegal migrants.

Alexander De Croo is hoping that the department, along with the country’s building agency, will be able to provide additional housing for would-be asylum seekers, with Belgium now struggling to find new places to put the surging number of new arrivals.

Government officials are also planning to contact the National Railway Company of Belgium (NMBS) – the country’s single largest property owner – in the hopes it will be able to provide buildings for housing migrants.

They are also separately planning the creation of two “emergency villages” for arrivals, which will consist of temporary housing made out of “containers”.

Responses to the announcement have not been positive, with representatives of the nationalist Vlaams Belang party describing the move as “shameless”.

“Simply nothing is being done to prevent the influx. More shelters are a bogus solution,” party leader Tom Van Grieken said in a press release.

He went on to denounce the government’s approach to the crisis as being an “endless road”. He argued that Belgium must focus on curbing the arrival of asylum seekers rather than attempt to find more housing for them.

“There are not too few reception places, there are too many asylum seekers,” he said.

De Croo’s new scheme comes at a time when asylum claims are surging across Belgium.

This has forced his centrist government to take extreme measures in the hopes of handling the influx. It was announced in August that Belgium would no longer attempt to house single male migrants who arrive in its territory.

Although such a move has since been declared illegal by the country’s Council of State, Belgian media outlets have reported that the nation is in reality continuing to implement the measure, lacking the necessary accommodation to house both families and lone male arrivals.

Speaking on the issue, State Secretary for Asylum and Migration Nicole de Moor has warned that things are only set to get worse over the coming months.

“I want to be honest: it will be a difficult winter,” she said.