The improvised camp in the Brussels’ Maximilian Park has been dismantled. Extra sleeping places are being organized by Belgium’s government as we speak. Caritas International nonetheless continues its presence and social support for the most vulnerable refugees, hundreds of whom are queuing every day at the Immigration Office.
In the region around Liège three camping owners were prepared to receive refugees until the end of October. Currently, 459 asylum seekers are housed here. In the short term, an additional 106 persons are expected to arrive. The three sites, managed by Caritas International, will ultimately provide emergency housing for 750 people. Since the arrival of asylum seekers at the campsites, tens of volunteers from the area have presented themselves and have offered their support to both refugee children and adults.
Caritas International’s teams are doing what they can to find as many quality housing units for as many people as possible. Current circumstances are not the conditions in which we operate normally. “Usually we help with the installation of nine individuals or families in our network of individual homes. Per month. In recent weeks this network has expanded from 450 to 650 places. On top of this we are now also responsible for the reception of hundreds of asylum seekers,” says Dodier Valenzuela, Caritas International colleague at the administrative department. “Right now our priority is humanitarian,” program director Anne Dussart adds. “By rapidly expanding our network, we want to ensure emergency housing for anyone who seeks protection in Belgium. Once the emergency situation has passed, we can return to the activities of social support that we have been offering for more than 15 years.”
As pressing as these humanitarian needs are those that will come up in the following months. When asylum seekers receive a positive answer to their asylum application – this means: when they are officially recognized as refugees - they need to find a home and a job as soon as possible. The difficult process of integration can usually only start from the moment that they have found a suitable home. Only then will they have the right to public welfare assistance, will they be able to apply for a Belgian ID card, to enroll in language classes, etc.
Unfortunately, reality shows that it is very hard for refugees to find a rental contract. Caritas International supports refugees during this search for a home. This is also why we are currently in the process of expanding our network of homes so that recognized refugees may find a home as quickly as possible. In August we launched an appeal to homeowners who are willing to rent out a property to those refugees who have been granted a residence permit. Since our appeal we have received more than 400 offers, for which we are incredibly grateful. But given the extraordinary demand, the search continues. Read more about our appeal here (why/where/what). If you believe you can help us in this search, please let us know via the following email address: email@example.com
Elsewhere in Europe, the Caritas network (national Caritas organizations, local partners plus hundreds of volunteers) joined forces this summer to assist the most vulnerable refugees arriving in Europe, escaping war and violence in the Middle East. Many newcomers are in poor health conditions, arriving tired, traumatized, hungry and dehydrated. More arrivals are expected before winter. But even winter might not stop these arrivals: the need for tents, blankets, warm clothes, rain gear and warmer coats are high. Prospects are bleak but together with countless volunteers the European Caritas network continues its efforts to help as many refugees as possible. You too can help. Help as a volunteer (by registering here - French), or support our organization by making a donation. Here. Your help is important, and we greatly appreciate it.