156 Syrians resettled in Belgium
A group of 156 Syrian refugees arrived from Turkey on 25 February 2021. These people, mainly families, were staying in Istanbul, Bursa, Şanlıurfa, Nusaybin and Kayseri.
Four other families (19 people in total) tested positive for COVID-19 before they were set to depart and were ultimately unable to travel as expected this morning. Their transfer is being rescheduled.
This is the first group of resettled refugees in Belgium this year. Between July 2019 and October 2020, no resettlement missions could take place owing to a shortage of reception places in Belgium, as well as the health crisis. This therefore explains why only 176 refugees could be resettled in 2020. Fedasil is planning to resettle a record number of refugees in 2021, involving around 1,500 people in practice, particularly in order to respect the commitments made in previous years.
In the reception centres
Teams from Fedasil and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) were present at Zaventem Airport to receive this first group. The refugees were immediately transferred to the Fedasil's reception centres in Florennes, Kapellen, Mouscron and Pondrôme, where they will follow a specific reception programme for 6 weeks that includes workshops on life in Belgium. Afterwards, they will move to an individual accommodation managed by the Public Centres for Social Welfare (CPAS/OCMW).
The refugees will need to respect a quarantine period upon arrival at the reception centres as a precaution, to rule out any risk from COVID-19.
When refugees are selected for resettlement, Fedasil visits their first reception country to organise a cultural orientation mission known as ‘BELCO’. During these sessions, the refugees are prepared for their life in our country, which enables them to come to Belgium with accurate and realistic expectations. Owing to the current health crisis, it is however not possible to organise these missions at the moment. Nonetheless, the refugees do have the ability to attend these sessions remotely online.
Resettlement? Since 2013, Belgium has committed to resettling a quota of vulnerable refugees every year, based on European priorities. In recent years, this has mainly involved Syrian families from Turkey, Lebanon or Jordan.
The resettlement programme is supported by European funding (AMIF fund).