Reception crisis: Fedasil can no longer find a reception place for Ukrainian refugees in the municipalities

People fleeing the war in Ukraine and arriving in Belgium are registered by the Foreigners’ Office at the Eurostation, a building located near Brussels-Midi station. From there, those who do not have accommodation with friends or family are, in principle, directed by Fedasil to another municipality. As long as this is not the case, they are welcomed in a Red Cross emergency center in Woluwe-Saint-Lambert.

But because this center, called Ariane, is full, Ukrainian refugees have to spend the night in a homeless shelter or at the Midi station, said Fedasil communications director Mieke Candaele.

“It’s true that the federal emergency shelter hasn’t been used for a few weeks, but that’s the consequence of the fact that welcoming Ukrainians (at the Ariane center, editor’s note) takes far too long, because that we no longer find a place in the communes,” added Ms. Candaele.

She was responding to the Flemish Housing Minister, Matthias Diependaele (CD&V) who had affirmed earlier in the day that “the problem is federal” and that Flanders always does more than its share in welcoming Ukrainians. He underlined that Flanders had provided 80% of emergency reception in recent months, while it had undertaken to reach 60%.

According to Candaele, Ukrainian refugees currently spend an average of 72 days in emergency shelters. But some people have been there for six months.

“Currently, 250 places are planned for Ukrainian refugees in the Ariane building. Given the current influx, this should suffice if the emergency accommodation for these people does not last more than five days. But we are unable to transfer them to the municipalities,” she added.

“At Fedasil, we have people who call cities and towns all day and who simply cannot find a place,” explained Ms. Candaele.

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