Belgium plans ro resettle 300 refugees in 2015
In a press release issued on 19 November 2014, Theo Francken, State Secretary for Asylum and Migration, confirmed his intention to double the number of places for the resettlement of vulnerable refugees from Syria and Iraq. The previous federal government had established the quota for 2015 to be 150 refugees. This was already 50 more than in the two previous years. But as a result of the lasting conflict in Syria and Iraq and the increasing flow of refugees from both countries, the number for 2015 will hence be doubled. Furthermore, of these 300 places, 225 will be reserved for Syrians and Iraqis. Francken: "They fled their own country for fear of persecution, for instance because of their religious beliefs, their ethnic roots, or because of a civil war, without any prospects of a permanent return to their homes. The announced doubling of the number of ‘resettlers’ is a direct response to an urgent appeal from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to the Western countries to offer more places for resettlement."During the selection of 150 additional refugees, the UN refugee organisation UNHCR will pay special attention to religious and ethnic minorities from Syria and Iraq, including Yezidi and Christians. Francken: "The Office of the Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons will organize a mission of recognition to examine whether the refugees meet all the necessary criteria for resettlement. Next, Fedasil will arrange their accommodation and assistance in Belgium. That way they receive shelter, as well as psychological and employment counselling."A first group of Syrians will soon arrive in Belgium. There are 75 of them and they were selected as part of the 2014 programme. They are expected to arrive in two or three groups by the end of the year.