Types of accommodation

Belgium

Country Report: Types of accommodation Last updated: 08/04/22

Author

Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen Visit Website

Accommodation may be collective i.e. a centre, or in individual reception facilities i.e. a house, studio or flat,[1] 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 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.[2] 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.[3] Currently, the partners for collective reception are Croix Rouge, Rode Kruis, AGAJ, AJW, Caritas International, Mutualité Socialiste, Privé and Samu Social.[4] 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 registered many new asylum seekers’ arrivals . At 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 open 7 collective centres 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 that were not adequate to meet the needs of certain applicants.[5] 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).[6]

In the course of 2020, 14 new reception centres were opened, while 3 centres were closed down.[7] 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.[8] 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.[9]

However, since September 2021, the reception network is once more under enormous pressure, the occupancy rate being at 96% for months (the saturation capacity being 94%). Possibilities of opening new reception places were urgently examined by the Belgian government and Fedasil and several new reception centres – some structural, some emergency shelters opened in the course of the last months. However, these were not sufficient to provide reception for all applicants in need of shelter.[10] Difficulties are encountered especially due to the unwillingness of local administrations to accept opening centres on their territory, since such decisions are often met with resistance from the local population.[11] The number of reception centres and their capacity are thus constantly changing.

As of January 2021, the 109 main collective reception centres were mainly managed and organised by Fedasil, Croix Rouge and Rode Kruis.[12]

The individual reception initiatives are mainly run by the PCSW and by NGO partners. On 1 January 2021, the PCSW had 5 285 places in LRI, while NGO partners currently have 451 places.

The entire reception system had a total 30,124 places, out of which 94% were occupied on 25 January 2022.[13]

There are also specialised centres for specific categories of applicants (see Special Reception Needs).

[1] Article 16, 62 and 64 Reception Act.

[2] Article 56 Reception Act.

[3] Article 62 Reception Act.     

[4] Information provided by Fedasil, January 2021.

[5] 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.

[6] 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.

[7] Fedasil, Key figures for 2020, available in Dutch/French at: https://bit.ly/3cb5qEY.

[8] Chamber of Representatives, Doc 1580/014, Policy Note on asylum and migration, 04 November 2020, available in Dutch/French at: https://bit.ly/3c9hy9z.

[9] Fedasil, Daling van de instroom in 2020, 19 January 2021, available at: http://bit.ly/38Ve9t6.

[10] The Brussels Time, Closed Hotel Mercure in Evere becomes reception center for asylum seekers, 9 December 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3vRM81n; Bruzz, Gesloten Hotel Mercure in Evere wordt opvangplaats asielzoekers, 9 December 2021, https://bit.ly/3KuFUZh; Bruzz, Opvangcentrum voor 40 asielzoekers opent in Elsene, 24 December 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3hU3JNW.

[11] De Standaard, Noodopvang in Glaaien kan morgen openen, 2 December 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3vOIrcV; De Tijd, Mahdi krijgt voorlopig geen grip op opvangcrisis, 28 October 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3Crx0Jn.

[12] Overview of all reception centres per organisation available here: https://bit.ly/3vU4Qp6.

[13] Statistics of Fedasil, available at: http://bit.ly/3rzB8kr.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation