It is true that there is no longer room for newly arrived Ukrainian refugees in the federal emergency center in Woluwe-Saint-Lambert, but that is due to the fact that Fedasil, the federal agency for the reception of asylum seekers, no longer finds places in the cities and municipalities. This is what Fedasil Communications Director Mieke Candaele says on Thursday in a response to Flemish Minister of Housing Matthias Diependaele (N-VA).
Those who have fled the war in Ukraine and come to Belgium are registered here by the Immigration Office in Eurostation, a building behind Brussels-South station. From there, Ukrainian refugees who do not have shelter with friends or family are, in principle, referred by Fedasil to a city or municipality. As long as that does not happen, they should be able to go to an emergency center of the Red Cross in Woluwe-Saint-Lambert. But because that center ‘Ariane’ is full and there is no more traffic, Ukrainian refugees also have to spend the night in the homeless shelter or in the South Station.
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“It is true that the federal emergency shelter has been lost for a few weeks, but that is due to the fact that the reception of Ukrainians (in Ariane, ed.) takes much too long, because we can no longer find space in the municipalities”, Mieke Candaele of Fedasil responds to Flemish minister Diependaele. He had said earlier in the day that “the problem is federal” and that Flanders is still doing more than its share.
According to Candaele, Ukrainian refugees currently spend an average of 72 days in emergency shelters, some people have been there for six months. “Currently, 250 places are provided for Ukrainian refugees in the Ariane building. Based on the current influx, that should suffice if the emergency shelter for those people did not last longer than five days, but we can no longer transfer them to the municipalities.”
“At Fedasil, we have people who call cities and municipalities all day long and simply cannot find places,” says Candaele.