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La Place Royale in Brussels. Wikicommons
this story is part of the 22-26 Jan 2018 Weekly Hindsight Read the hindsight

Belgium targets volunteers offering migrants a bed

Marjan Justaert recommended by Marjan Justaert De Standaard, Belgium

The Belgian government is considering allowing police to search private homes of people suspected of sheltering undocumented migrants.

Belgium Smoke signals

Why this story matters:

The question on the minds of Belgian officials seems to be, "How can we ban all migrants who don't have authorization to stay?"

 The government is trying to break the solidarity that Belgium has experienced in recent months with the accommodation of migrants by citizens. Volunteers such as Samira Atillah say they feel frustrated, and even intimidated.

"This is so not the way to avoid a second 'Calais''', Atillah says. "Repression is maybe the easy way, but what we need is political courage to solve the fundamental problems."

migration,human rights,protests

Protests in Brussels against 'intimidating' Belgian government, activists plead for a more human approach

  • Since September, hundreds of ordinary families have been providing a home for migrants.
  • The Belgian government is considering legislation which would make it easier to detain undocumented people through home searches. 
  • Right now, undocumented people can only be arrested in public places.
  • The legislation has caused outrage and led to protests, including on Sunday when a human chain of protesters gathered in a Brussels park to stop a leaked plan to arrest all the migrants and refugees sleeping there.
  • The protest prompted parliament to hold hearings before voting on the proposed legislation.
  • Several organizations defending the rights of migrants have asked their members to write letters to oppose the police home searches.

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