Accommodation may be collective i.e. a centre, or in individual reception facilities i.e. a house, studio or flat, depending on the profile of the asylum seeker and the phase of the asylum procedure the asylum seeker is in (see section on Forms and Levels of Material Reception Conditions).
The Federal Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (Fedasil) was established in 2001 to manage the network of reception centres in an efficient and coordinated way and has fallen under the competence of the Secretary of State for Migration and Integration since the end of 2011. Fedasil is in charge of the management and coordination of the network, which includes collective and individual reception places, in addition to other responsibilities such as coordinating the voluntary return programs, the observation and orientation of unaccompanied children and the integration of reception facilities in the municipalities. To implement its coordinating and executing competencies, Fedasil regularly issues instructions on different aspects of material reception conditions in practice.
The practical organisation is done in partnership between government bodies, NGOs and private partners. Currently, the partners for collective reception are Croix Rouge, Rode Kruis, AGAJ, AJW, Caritas International, Mutualité Socialiste, Privé and Samu Social. The communal PCSW are important partners for individual reception.
During 2016 and 2017 the government closed 10 000 reception places, a lot of which were created during 2015 when Belgium had a large influx of asylum seekers. In the beginning of 2018 the government decided to close an additional 2,500 collective reception places and 4,000 individual places. By the summer of 2018 it became clear that, due to these closures and a growing number of asylum requests in comparison to the previous year, there would not be enough places left. The government then decided – at the end of September 2018 – to keep 7 collective centres open that were initially supposed to close. At the end of 2018, the capacity of the reception system was still too limited, forcing the immigration office to refuse the applications for international protection of asylum seekers and thus their access to the reception system (see Right to shelter and assignment to a centre). In order to be able to provide more accommodations, the closure of many individual places was postponed as well.
During 2019 this precarious situation persisted and the lack of staff at the Immigration Office and the CGRS resulted in lengthy asylum procedures, thus forcing Fedasil to continuously open new places throughout the year. Amongst these new places, many places included tents and containers which were not adequate to meet the needs of certain applicants. This situation also led to the introduction of new instructions by Fedasil limiting the reception conditions for several categories of asylum seekers (see Right to reception: Dublin procedure and Right to reception: Applicants with a protection status in another EU Member State). It should further be noted that the saturation of the Fedasil reception network has put resettlement operations on hold since July 2019.
In the course of 2020, 14 new reception centres were opened, while 3 centres were closed down. Combined with a significant decrease of asylum applications of 39% in 2020, this led to a decrease of occupancy rate of the reception system to 85% as of 1 January 2021. In his policy note, the current Secretary of State for migration aims to develop a stable, but flexible reception system. Fedasil announced it would continue to look for new reception places in 2021, in order to ensure flexibility in case of fluctuations of the influx of asylum seekers.
As of January 2021, the 70 main collective reception centres were mainly managed and organised by:
|Collective reception centres: Management and capacity|
|Partner||Number of centres||Total capacity|
Source: Statistics of 1 January 2020, available at: https://www.fedasil.be/nl/statistics.
The individual reception initiatives are mainly run by the PCSW and by NGO partners. As of 1 January 2021, the PCSW had 5,955 places in LRI, while NGO partners currently have 434 places.
The entire reception system had a total 28,133 places, out of which 85% were occupied on 1 February 2021.
There are also specialised centres for specific categories of applicants (see Special Reception Needs).
Article 16, 62 and 64 Reception Act.
Article 56 Reception Act.
Article 62 Reception Act.
Information provided by Fedasil, January 2021.
Myria, Contact Meeting, September 2019, https://bit.ly/397g0sz; Contact Meeting, October 2019, https://bit.ly/2TmOrEN ; Contact Meeting, November 2019, https://bit.ly/3af2qDg ; Contact Meeting, December 2019, https://bit.ly/385AZL0.
Fedasil, ‘Sluiting 7 centra uitgesteld’, 2 October 2018, available in Dutch at https://bit.ly/2RfAANv; Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen, ‘Staatssecretaris zet limiet op asielaanvragen: vandaag al 60 mensen op straat’, 23 November 2018, https://bit.ly/2DAo7R7; De Morgen, ’Opvangcentra zitten overvol door grotere instroom: tenten voor asielzoekers weer in beeld’, 16 November 2018, avaialble in Dutch at: https://bit.ly/2Wzhu91; Fedasil, ‘Druk op opvangnetwerk steeds hoger’, 8 November 2019, avaialble in Dutch, https://bit.ly/384yGry; Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen, ‘Opnieuw asielzoekers op straat, kroniek van een aangekondigde opvangcrisis’,18 November 2019, available in Dutch at: https://bit.ly/2TplTdM; Vlaamse Vereniging voor Steden en Gemeenten, ‘Lokale besturen zijn jojo-effect federaal opvangbeleid beu’, 13 November 2019, available in Dutch at: https://bit.ly/2VuNEV9.
Fedasil, Key figures for 2020, available in Dutch/French at: https://bit.ly/3cb5qEY.
Chamber of Representatives, Doc 1580/014, Policy Note on asylum and migration, 04 November 2020, available in Dutch/French at: https://bit.ly/3c9hy9z.
Fedasil, Daling van de instroom in 2020, 19 January 2021, http://bit.ly/38Ve9t6.