Found dead in a Belgian squat with hundreds of asylum seekers

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The building in Brussels after the fire that broke out last month
NOS News

A dead person was found this morning in a squat in Brussels where large groups of asylum seekers have been staying in recent months. The body was found during the evacuation of the building in the Paleizenstraat, which the police started this morning. The cause of death is unknown, reports the Belgian broadcaster VRT.

Hundreds of asylum seekers have been staying in the former tax office since October because there was no shelter for them. The plumbing in the building was substandard, which meant that diseases could easily spread. The building was also a fire hazard. A resident was also killed in a stabbing earlier.

In recent weeks, a reception place has been found for 750 asylum seekers. The other residents were to be transferred to a temporary reception location by bus yesterday and today.

According to social workers and volunteers who took part in the collection of the remaining residents yesterday, the action was chaotic. In addition to the residents of the building, people from outside also tried to get a seat on the bus. This led to a commotion and the police had to intervene. Those involved spoke to the Belgian broadcaster of “a disastrous operation”.

Also homeless in building

Like the Netherlands, Belgium is also facing a crisis in asylum reception. The 33,000 available reception places turned out to be insufficient at the end of last year. There was no room for more than 3000 people. They sought shelter in porches, tent camps and metro stations scattered throughout Brussels. In October, a group squatted the old tax office, which became the symbol of the crisis in Belgium.

At first there were only asylum seekers in the building, but gradually Brussels homeless people also tried to join the residents. As a result, it became unclear which authorities were responsible for the reception of the inhabitants. Eventually, the federal government was asked to intervene.

Refugee Work Belgium fears that similar situations will continue to occur as long as the reception problem is not tackled structurally. In the end, between 250 and 300 people were left behind in the Paleizenstraat yesterday. It is unclear whether they are being cared for elsewhere today.

  • Asylum seekers in Belgium find risky shelter in Brussels squat
  • Fire in Brussels squat where hundreds of migrants live
  • Interior

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