Belgium: Asylum seekers

Last year 10,207 asylum seekers were allowed to stay in Belgium for humanitarian reasons - mostly since their case was taking too long to process.  11,725 asylum seekers were expelled or not allowed in.

In 3,291 cases the asylum seekers were given permanent residence and in 2,101 temporary.

The amount of asylum requests in 2006 is an all time low since 1990.


The Belgian Interior Minister Patrick Dewael (Flemish liberal) and his Flemish counterpart Marino Keulen (liberal) have commissioned a new report to find out how many people are staying in Belgium illegally.

The work has been entrusted to the Belgian sociologist and criminologist Marion Van San, who will do the job together with two colleagues at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam (The Netherlands).

The sociologist has been asked to find out how many people are staying in Belgium illegally, how they arrived here, what their motives are and how they live.

The team will also examine whether the accession of new member states to the European Union has triggered a new influx of illegals.

The Belgian ministers also want to know how often illegals deal with the police and in connection with which kinds of crimes this happens.

The Belgian-Dutch team is also looking at who provides help, shelter and support for illegals and in which way this happens.

So far the scientists got interviewers to speak with 120 families of people staying in the country illegally. The research involves people from Antwerp, Ghent (East Flanders) and Brussels.

The interviewers have the same nationality as the illegals and as a result were able to contact these people more easily via pubs and non profit organisations.

The report should be ready by the spring.

The decision to involve criminologist Marion Van San has raised an eyebrow in certain quarters. In 2001 the scientist examined the crime share immigrant youngsters had in the total crime statistics.

At the time several politicians were unhappy with the way this report dealt with the issue.

Source: HLN (Dutch), Flanders news (English)

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