Last Updated: Friday, 21 October 2016, 15:45 GMT

U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2004 - Belgium

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 25 May 2004
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2004 - Belgium , 25 May 2004, available at: [accessed 22 October 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

At the end of 2003, Belgium hosted about 33,000 refugees and asylum seekers in need of protection, including some 31,200 pending cases, and 1,800 persons granted asylum during the year.

During the year, around 22,000 individuals applied for asylum. Since the Belgian government only counts adults and does not count accompanied children separately, the U.S. Committee for Refugees uses the government's average multiplier of 1.3 to estimate the number of individuals. The top countries of origin were Congo-Kinshasa (2,300) and Russia (2,200).

New Developments

Failed Afghan asylum seekers in Belgium, fearing being returned to Afghanistan, staged a hunger strike in a Brussels church. After about three weeks, in August, the Belgian government agreed to grant them a reprieve, allowing them to stay until early in the new year when it would reassess the security situation in Afghanistan. However, although the government had promised them the right to work, Afghans were having problems obtaining work permits.

The Belgian Commissioner for Refugees told a newspaper that Belgium would grant Chechens political asylum stating, "The war in Chechnya has reached such dimensions that it would be inhuman to send them back." Previously Belgium granted very few Chechens asylum.

The government passed a law granting temporary protection for war refugees entitling them to stay in Belgium for up to three years, with rights to public assistance, employment, education, and family reunification.

Detention and Deportation

A Brussels court convicted four former police officers of assault, battery, and negligence in the case of Semira Adamu, a failed asylum seeker who died during her deportation. The court also ordered the Belgian government to pay damages and interest to the civil parties in the case.

Belgian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights concerning the government practice of detaining rejected asylum seekers in airport transit zones. Pursuant to Belgian law, detention is subject to judicial control and may not be extended indefinitely if authorities cannot expel the failed asylum seeker in the foreseeable future. Usually courts order the government to release failed asylum seekers after two months, but the government often merely transfers them to airport waiting areas and detains them there.

A court in Brussels ordered the government to cease deporting unaccompanied under-age failed asylum seekers without guarantees that they could be cared for in their home countries.

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