Treatment of specific nationalities

Belgium

Author

Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen

Besides the prioritisation by law of the non-admissibility decisions on asylum applications from EU-citizens, persons with a protection status in an EU Member State or persons from a safe country of origin (with the exception of Albania), there is no formal prioritisation of the in merit treatment of any nationality. 

De facto however, Syrian applications are handled with priority and with the presumption that once their nationality is ascertained and there are no indications for exclusion, the person should get a protection status. 

Since October 2015, Iraqi asylum seekers are no longer granted subsidiary protection status merely because they originate from Bagdad. A thorough assessment of the present situation in Bagdad showed that the situation is still problematic and that many people are still in need of protection. However, it also appears that the situation is not such that every person from Bagdad runs a real risk of falling victim to random violence. As is the case for persons from Southern or Northern Iraq, the CGRS still assesses on an individual basis if there are any indications of a well-founded fear of persecution or a real risk in case of return. If there are such indications, refugee status or subsidiary protection status is granted. If there aren’t any indications, the CGRS takes a decision of refusal.1

The AO and the Secretary of Asylum himself also had an intense to divert them from applying or continuing their asylum procedure. Through different specific communications by the authorities, they have tried to persuade Iraqis to withdraw their applications and return on a voluntary basis, a practice vehemently opposed by many NGOs.2  The campaign certainly had an effect. In 2016 25 % of the voluntary return assisted by IOM concerned Iraqi nationals. Nevertheless in 2016 Iraq remained in the top 3 countries of origin for recognition of refugee status. This shows once more that for persons from Iraq, still have a strong need for protection.

Burundi: The CGRS acknowledges that the situation in Burundi is very problematic but is of the opinion that the situation is not such that every Burundian national should be granted international protection merely on account of his or her nationality. The CGRS is of the opinion that there are no serious grounds to consider that there is currently in Burundi a situation of armed conflict leading to indiscriminate violence by reason of which a civilian runs a risk of serious and individual threats to his or her life or person in case of a return (determination of subsidiary protection status). Applicants from Burundi are therefore not automatically eligible to subsidiary protection status merely on account of their origin.3

Gaza (Palestine): until November 2016 refugees coming from Gaza were almost automatically recognised refugee status, based on the fact that is was nearly impossible to return to Gaza. Seeing that this has changed, the CGRS declared that it will no longer automatically grant protection. Protection will be granted based on the individual situation, and no longer because of provenance from Gaza.4

 

Resettlement

Belgium aimed to resettle a total of 550 refugees in 2016, with a majority of Syrians.

In 2016, 452 refugees arrived in Belgium through the resettlement programme. 448 of them are Syrians and come from Lebanon and Turkey (including 102 Syrians under the EU-Turkey agreement), but some were resettled from Jordan and Egypt. In addition, 4 Congolese refugees from Burundi were resettled in Belgium in September 2016.5

About AIDA

The Asylum Information Database (AIDA) is a database managed by the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), containing information on asylum procedures, reception conditions, detenti