Types of accommodation


Country Report: Types of accommodation Last updated: 10/07/24


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 practical organisation and management of the reception centres is done in partnership between government bodies, NGOs and private partners.[2]

Over the course of 2015 – 2023 the reception network has undergone several changes. The number of available places has been very dynamic in this period and is interlinked with the number of applications for international protection in Belgium. After the peak of applicants for international protection in 2015, the capacity peaked at 33.659 places. In 2018, after a steady decrease in the number of international protection applicants, the capacity was reduced to 21.343. This decrease in places was mainly reached by closing emergency shelter and individual reception facilities. When applications for international protection reached a first peak again in 2019, the reception network had to increase its capacity again in a very short timeframe. The capacity being too limited, the immigration office was forced 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). 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).[3]

Applications for international protection and number of reception places in Belgium (2008 – 2023), based on data from CGRS and Fedasil.


Due to the constant change in capacity, local governments were subsequently asked to open a reception facility, close it and re-open it later. They denounced this ‘yoyo-policy’ in November of 2019, indicating that they were no longer willing to open new reception facilities. They demanded a more structural, long-term policy for the reception network that can absorb the fluctuating numbers of applications for international protection.[4] In November 2020 the Secretary of State for migration issued a Policy Note on asylum and migration, establishing as a priority the development of a stable but flexible reception system, in order to meet the demands of the local governments.[5]

However, since September 2021, the reception network has been under enormous pressure, the occupancy rate being at 96% for months (the saturation capacity at 94%) (see Constraints to the right to shelter). 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 last months. However, these were insufficient to provide reception for all applicants needing shelter.[6] Difficulties are encountered especially due to the remaining unwillingness of local administrations to accept opening centres on their territory.[7]

At the end of 2023 the reception network had a capacity of 35,651 places.[8] Although 3,388 new places were created in 2023, 1,669 places closed. The overall number of places was largely insufficient to provide reception to all asylum seekers in need. The reception crisis persisted throughout 2023, with a total of 8,816 persons with a reception need not being able to get a reception place.

As of March 2023, the 114 main collective reception centres were mainly managed and organised by Fedasil (35 centres, capacity of 10,604 places), Croix Rouge (26 centres, 8,180 places and Rode Kruis (21 centres, capacity of 5,374 places). Some other smaller partners manage and organise 32 centres with a capacity of 2,798 places.[9]

The NGO partners (SAM, Agentschap Opgroeien, Caritas, Ciré and Stad Gent) and PCSW (LRI) run the individual reception initiatives.

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




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

[2] Article 62 Reception Act.     

[3] 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, available in Dutch at: 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, available in Dutch at:  https://bit.ly/384yGry.

[4] VVSG, ‘Lokale besturen zijn jojo-effect federaal opvangbeleid beu’, available in Dutch at: http://bit.ly/3mcud36.

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

[6] 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.

[7] Examples: Municipality Koksijde, Asylum center in Koksijde will close down due to infringements of construction regulations, 22 January 2024, available in Dutch at: https://bit.ly/4ataCiA; De Morgen, Resistance against reception centre in Jabbeke: “This is a residential area. All that noise doesn’t belong here, right?”, 22 October 2022, available in Dutch at: https://bit.ly/49cc0VJ; VRT Nws, Municipality of Spa demands via legal penalties reception of less asylum seekers, 24 december 2021, available in Dutch at https://bit.ly/3IWIitc; 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.

[8] Fedasil, A reception network under pressure, 15 February 2024, available in English at: https://bit.ly/49cc4or.  

[9] Ibidem.

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