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02 November 2021 – Belgium

Strike Action Outside
Strike Action Outside "Petit Chateau" Reception Centre in Brussels, (, "Staking in Klein Kasteeltje: 'Wij zitten vol'," 16 October 2021,

The Belgian NGO Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen reported that during 19-22 October 2021, between 60-150 asylum seekers were being denied access to the asylum registration procedure per day, and in consequence did not have access to reception. As reported on 11 August 2020 on this platform, many asylum seekers were sleeping rough after being released from detention. Now, some are sleeping in front of the “Petit Chateau” arrival centre due to lack of spaces in the reception facility. Fedasil reported that the lack of capacity is due to an increase in asylum applications, the resettlement of Syrian refugees, the extension of the length of stay in the country’s reception centres, as well as the repatriation mission from Afghanistan. COVID-19 has also compelled reception centres to reserve spaces for isolation in case of possible COVID-19 outbreaks.

On18 October 2021, the staff at the “Petit Chateau” reception centre went on strike to denounce the conditions and overcrowding. According to news reports, the number of monthly asylum applications in October 2021 was at the highest level since the refugee “crisis” towards the end of 2015. The centre’s director said she wanted to avoid a “Dutch situation,” referring to the overcrowded asylum seeker centres in the Netherlands, which led to hundreds of asylum seekers having to sleep on camp beds and chairs due to lack of space earlier in October 2021. On 26 October 2021, a second 24-hour strike at the “Petit Chateau” facility in Brussels took place. This led to the suspension of new asylum applications there until the following day. The director general of Fedasil said that he understands the frustration of the staff and that new measures were put in place including: “more staff being hired, new registration centres being open, and asylum services have been reinforced.”

According to ECRE, the lack of reception capacity in Belgium is a recurring concern and similar situations of asylum seekers being unable to access the asylum and reception systems have taken place in 2018, 2019, and 2020.