Closure of Petit Château linked to coronavirus: Applicants for international protection on the street

Caritas International Belgium Closure of Petit Château linked to coronavirus: Applicants for international protection on the street

© CC by Tram Bruxelles - Le Petit Château is the arrival center for all those wishing to apply for international protection in Belgium. However, due to the coronavirus crisis, it is no longer possible to register.

© CC by Tram Bruxelles - Le Petit Château is the arrival center for all those wishing to apply for international protection in Belgium. However, due to the coronavirus crisis, it is no longer possible to register.

27/03/2020

Earlier this week, the government decided to suspend registration of new applicants for international protections with the Office of Foreigners (Petit Château). We are concerned about the consequences of this decision linked to the coronavirus crisis as they were immediately felt and have considerable impact.

The doors of the Petit Château will remain closed to applicants for international protection[1] for an indefinite period. This decision is one of the consequences of the measures taken by the National Security Council on Thursday March 12 against the spread of the virus.

Urgent action for asylum seekers

What is the goal? To avoid that people gather outside the center or in waiting rooms. No one is allowed to come home- neither, young people or families with children.

The fact that they can no longer register and that there is no emergency reception plan means that people will be left to find housing for themselves for the next few days or even weeks. Without acquaintances or families, finding a place to stay is an impossible task. Due to the cessation of registration, these families and children are exposed to unnecessary risk and uncertainty. Therefore, additional measures need to be put in place immediately.

Necessary protection for vulnerable profiles

We understand that the government wants to protect its employees. In fact, Caritas International Belgium has taken precautionary measures and makes daily adjustments to protect our people. But this decision deprives people of their right to seek international protection. In addition, all Member States have been instructed to adopt proportionate rules and to protect everyone’s health[2].

>>READ: Coronavirus: Stay there, despite the epidemic

The Netherlands also chose to stop their registration procedure, yet this decision was accompanied by the creation of additional emergency reception centers. We hope that Belgium is following this example and in a coordinated manner between the different levels of power.


You can also act by joining the Caritas rescue team! You don’t even have to leave your home, you can support the Coronavirus emergency fund via our online platform or on the BE88 0000 0000 4141 account with the code “Coronavirus 005”

Footnote :

1

Previously called ‘asylum seeker.’ In 2018, the term was officially changed to “applicant for international protection.” An “asylum request” is now called a “request for international protection.” In Belgium, the request for international protection concerns both refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection.

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