AIDA Update Belgium: rise in applications puts reception system and access to procedure under serious strain

The updated AIDA report on Belgium details the challenges posed to the Belgian reception system following a serious rise in the number of asylum applications in the second half of 2015. Since August 2015, more than 10,000 new accommodation places have been created, however adapted special reception needs cannot be provided for a rising number of vulnerable asylum applicants and the quality of the assistance (social, psychological, legal) is under threat.

Moreover, as explained by the author, CBAR-BCHV, access to the asylum procedure itself has become more problematic. Registration delays for asylum applications at the Aliens Office are becoming longer week by week, seriously exceeding the maximum delay of 10 days allowed by the recast Asylum Procedures Directive in exceptional circumstances. The number of registrations per day seems to be limited by the State Secretary to keep the pressure from the reception network. A communication campaign with personalised letters directed at certain groups (Iraqis, Afghans) intended at deterring them from (insisting on) applying for asylum, further puts pressure on the unhindered enjoyment of the right to asylum.

Finally, access to qualitative legal aid is being further restricted in practice by stricter pro Deo (free) lawyer designation rules, by the announced cuts in their remuneration and by serious cuts in public financing for NGOs assisting asylum applicants and protection status holders.

About AIDA

The Asylum Information Database (AIDA) is a database containing information on asylum procedures, reception conditions and detention across 20 countries.