REAB. Return and Emigration of Asylum seekers Ex-Belgium ANNUAL REPORT. The REAB Programme is supported and financed by the Kingdom of Belgium

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1 REAB Return and Emigration of Asylum seekers ExBelgium The REAB Programme is supported and financed by the Kingdom of Belgium 20 ANNUAL REPORT 6 IOM OIM 95 20

2 Country Office for Belgium and Luxembourg International Organization for Migration (IOM) 40 rue Montoyerstraat 000 Brussels Belgium 6 IOM OIM REAB Annual Report 20

3 The opinions and analyses expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views and official policies of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) or its Member States. Unless otherwise stated, whenever the masculine gender is used, both men and women are included. Editor in Chief: Pascal Reyntjens Contribution to this publication: Sacha Chan Kam, AnneMarie Da Silva, Jo De Backer, Géraldine D Hoop, Valon Halimi, Jacqueline Hall, Vernesa Music, Pascal Reyntjens, Agnès Tillinac, Sophie Van Haasen and Evi Vermeulen. Layout: Crossmark, Belgium Copyright International Organization for Migration, 202 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any way or through any means, whether electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or other, without the prior consent of the Publisher. REAB Annual Report 20 3

4 Table of Contents List of abbreviations...7 Foreword...8 Chapter. IOM approach on AVR and reintegration in Europe..... AVRR in the EU Voluntary Return European Network (VREN)...4 Chapter 2. Overview of migration policy at the Belgian level Belgian legislative migration framework Changes in the Belgian government The Belgian Government Statement State Secretary for Asylum, Immigration and Social Integration Mrs. Maggie De Block Migration related facts at the Belgian level Asylum requests in The reception crisis anno Stricter reception law for asylumseekers Circular of 0 June 20 concerning the responsibilities of mayors in the removal of thirdcountry nationals (Belgisch Staatsblad/Moniteur Belge 6 June 20) and the SEFOR (Sensibilization, Followup and Return) project List of safe countries Stricter procedures for medical regularization Belgium resettles refugees The Netherlands and Flanders work together on migration...22 Chapter 3. The REAB programme and IOM Brussels reintegration assistance The REAB programme: Services, procedural and practical aspects AVRR in Belgium: the REAB programme Beneficiaries and eligibility criteria Making an application for AVRR Predeparture return arrangements Postdeparture travel assistance Operational issues in IOM Brussels reintegration assistance Objectives and key points Reintegration grants Eligible expenses AVRR Bplus Counselling Reintegration assistance flowchart Operational and reintegration trends and statistical analysis REAB applications Reintegration assistance from 2006 to Geographical spread Monitoring and evaluation Reporting Monitoring and evaluation missions in countries of return...60 Chapter 4. Analysis of travel arrangements and agreements Background Global agreements with airlines Transit assistance...67 Chapter 5. REAB and reintegration assistance to vulnerable groups Unaccompanied minors REAB Annual Report 20

5 5... AVRR for UAMs as one of the durable solutions Information, communication and training AVRR in practice Trends and analysis Medical cases AVRR for medical cases Focus: The escorts Trends and analysis Victims of trafficking, exploitation and abuse National and international cooperation for safe return AVRR for victims of trafficking, exploitation and abuse...78 Chapter 6. Information and outreach activities Information activities The REAB partners Embassies and consulates New information material Outreach activities Monthly CBAR/BCHV meetings Information sessions aimed at SETIS Information session at the prisons of SintGillis and Hasselt Information session at Centre Regional d Integration de Charleroi Third seminar on assisted voluntary return and reintegration of vulnerable cases...86 Chapter 7. Events and conferences REAB partner meeting Celebration of the IOM sixtieth anniversary Belgian event years of PetitChâteau Open day at WoluwéSaintPierre reception centre Third seminar with embassies and consulates...92 Chapter 8. Other return and reintegrationrelated activities implemented by IOM Brussels European Return Fund National Actions Exchange of Information and Practices in 6 European Union Member States on Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) of Persons with Mental and/or Physical Disabilities Awarenessraising and capacitybuilding of stakeholders regarding assisted voluntary return and reintegration in Gent, Liège and Brussels through the Development of Innovative Information Tools (Cities Project) Enhanced assisted voluntary return and reintegration support from Belgium Comprehensive assisted voluntary return and reintegration approach European Return Fund National Actions Table of Contents Annexes...03 Annex I: Voluntary returns per continent...05 Annex II: Voluntary returns per province...06 Annex III: Voluntary returns per city of residence in Belgium...07 Annex IV: Voluntary returns per REAB partner...08 Annex V: Asylum requests, asylum recognitions and REAB voluntary returns... Annex VI: Voluntary returns destination countries...2 Annex VII: List of IOM REAB partners...7 Annex VIII: Glossary on migration...30 REAB Annual Report 20 5

6 List of Figures and Tables Figure : IOM Brussels: Type of reintegration assistance chosen by beneficiaries in 20 under REAB and AVRR Bplus Figure 2: IOM Brussels: Migrants assisted under REAB and AVRR Bplus in 20 Figure 3: In Belgium: IOM voluntary returns applications/ asylum applications/removals, Figure 4: IOM Brussels: Departures with reintegration assistance entitlement, Figure 5: IOM Brussels: Proportion of total returns entitled to reintegration assistance, Figure 6: IOM Brussels: Proportion of migrants assisted returning with reintegration entitlement, 20 Figure 7: IOM Brussels: Total number of migrants assisted to return with proportion entitled to reintegration assistance, in 20, by month List of Figures and Tables Figure 8: IOM Brussels: Assisted voluntary returns by REAB Categories, Figure 9: IOM Brussels: Reintegration assistance by REAB Categories, Figure 0: IOM Brussels: Assisted voluntary returns, 20: REAB partner referrals Figure : IOM Brussels: Reintegration assistance caseload: Referrals from REAB partners, Figure 2: IOM Brussels voluntary returns, 20: Beneficiaries province of residence in Belgium Figure 3: IOM Brussels 20: Beneficiaries gender profile Figure 4: IOM Brussels voluntary returns, 20: Age breakdown and family status Figure 5: IOM Brussels: Reintegration assistance, 20: Family status (by case) Figure 6: IOM Brussels voluntary returns, 20: 0 main countries of return Figure 7: IOM Brussels: Reintegration assistance, : Main 0 countries of return in 20 Figure 8: IOM Brussels: Voluntary returns, 20: Continents of return Figure 9: IOM Brussels: Reintegration assistance, 20: Assisted migrants by continent Figure 20: IOM Brussels: Reintegration assistance, : Assisted migrants by continent Figure 2: IOM Brussels: Voluntary returns, 20: Main countries of return in Europe Table : Table 2: Table 3: Table 4: Table 5: Table 6: Table 7: Table 8: IOM Brussels: Voluntary returns applications, : Departures and cancellations IOM Brussels: Voluntary returns, 20: Reasons for application cancellation IOM Brussels: Voluntary returns, : Applicants average duration of stay in Belgium before applying to REAB IOM Brussels: Reintegration assistance, 20: Assisted vulnerable migrants IOM Brussels: Voluntary returns and reintegration, 20: Applications/departures/reintegration assistance by country of return IOM Brussels: Voluntary returns, : Main 0 countries of return in Europe IOM Brussels: Voluntary returns, 20: Main 0 countries of return in Latin America IOM Brussels: Voluntary returns, 20: Main 0 countries of return in Africa 6 REAB Annual Report 20

7 List of Abbreviations ASBL AVR AVRR AVRR Bplus BCHV CBAR CGRA CGVS CoO CoR CPAS DRC EC EU EUMSs Fedasil FPS FYROM GDS GoB igator ILA IOM IRRiCO II Kosovo/UNSC 244 LOI MC NGOs OCMW REAB RF RMM UAMs UNHCR UNSC VoT VREN Association Sans But Lucratif (Nonprofit organization) Assisted Voluntary Return ssisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration from Belgium Belgisch Comite voor Hulp aan Vluchtelingen (Belgian Refugee Council) Comité Belge d Aide aux Réfugiés (Belgian Refugee Council) Commissariat Général aux Réfugiés et aux Apatrides CommissariaatGeneraal voor de Vluchtelingen en de Staatlozen Country of Origin Country of Return Centre Public d Action Sociale (Public Social Welfare Centre) The Democratic Republic of the Congo European Commission European Union European Union Member States Federal Agency for the Reception of Asylumseekers Federal Public Service The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Global Distribution System Belgian Government Integrated Global Airline Ticket Order Record Local Reception Initiative International Organization for Migration Enhanced and Integrated Approach Regarding Information on Return and Reintegration in Countries of Origin Kosovo/United Nations Security Council Resolution 244Administered Kosovo Local Reception Initiative Medical Cases Nongovernmental organizations Openbaar Centrum voor Maatschappelijk Welzijn (Public Social Welfare Centre) Return and Emigration of Asylumseekers ex Belgium European Return Fund Resettlement and Movement Management Unaccompanied Minors United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees United Nations Security Council Victim of Trafficking Voluntary Return European Network List of Abbreviations REAB Annual Report 20 7

8 Foreword The year 20 has seen the consolidation of the assisted voluntary return and reintegration (AVRR) approach in Belgium. The increased variety of stakeholders interested, and sometimes actively involved, in assistance and support to voluntary return to countries of origin is confirmed. This diversity can also be seen in the light of the recognition of the development and implementation of specific approaches answering the needs of the most vulnerable migrants. It also results from particular approaches addressing those residing under specific conditions in Belgium, such as migrants living in the various reception initiatives. In 20, a high number of migrants were assisted to return voluntarily to their home country through the Return and Emigration of Asylumseekers ex Belgium (REAB) programme. Indeed, 3,358 out of 4,230 migrants registered within the REAB programme were helped to return to 92 countries, representing an increase of 4 per cent when compared to 200. The REAB Annual Report 20 gives an overview of all these developments. It also provides basic analysis of the latest trends and can be ideally seen as the basis for further recommendations on AVRR and return management, more particularly in Belgium. I would like to reiterate my appreciation to all the partners involved directly or indirectly in the implementation of the REAB programme to make it a valuable option for migrants as well as the States involved. In the name of IOM Brussels, I also would like to thank Fedasil and the Belgian State for their continued support to this initiative. Pascal Reyntjens Chief of Mission (OiC) IOM Brussels Country Office for Belgium and Luxembourg Brussels, February REAB Annual Report 20

9 Foreword IOM REAB Annual Report 20 9

10 IOM IOM 2009 MLK0309

11 Chapter IOM approach to AVR and reintegration in Europe REAB Annual Report 20

12 Chapter. IOM approach to AVR and reintegration in Europe Assisted voluntary return and reintegration (AVRR) is a core activity of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and has provided vital assistance to tens of thousands of migrants returning home every year. It is also a growing area of work as an increasing number of States both those hosting migrants as well as countries of origin recognize the value of AVRR as an essential component of an effective and humane migration management framework. IOM now implements AVRR programmes in all continents and in a variety of directions: North South and South South. Since 979, with the establishment of the German Reintegration and Emigration Programme for Asylumseekers in Germany, IOM s AVRR activities have grown to include more than 00 projects, helping individuals return to some 60 countries worldwide. In the past decade alone, IOM has assisted upwards of 400,000 migrants to return voluntarily to their home countries. IOM considers AVRR an indispensable part of a comprehensive approach to migration management, which combines efficient border management, effective asylum processing structures, and respect for human rights by facilitating the safe and dignified return of migrants and encouraging their sustainable reintegration at home. parties to the process constitutes a platform on which discussion may be expanded to explore, inter alia, possibilities to establish facilitated regular migration channels between those same countries. In doing so, it enhances the positive value of coordinated migration management, including voluntary return options, rather than the unilateral approach that may be adopted to handle such issues... AVRR in the EU In the European Union, most of the AVR programmes have primarily assisted unsuccessful asylumseekers and those with temporary protection status. The decrease of asylum applications in European Union Member States (EUMSs), where IOM is traditionally implementing large AVRR programmes (e.g. REAG, REAN, REAB), has had an impact on the decrease in the number of returnees. Additionally, the trends of these general programmes have been influenced by a change in the major group of beneficiaries. Some of this downward trend is similar for other returns figures, such as forced returns as implemented by the authorities. The accession to the EU of traditional countries of return has also had an impact on the number of returnees. In addition, the regularization of certain categories of migrants residing in irregular situations in the EUMSs, or expectations for such a process (e.g. due to a change in government or relevant legislation), has had an impact on the return decision process of individuals. IOM also advocates the establishment of a cooperative approach and partnerships for the management of return migration frameworks by engaging countries of origin, transit, and destination. The cooperation thus initiated in the context of voluntary return among the various However, assistance to irregular migrants is on the increase, and several missions have been successfully implementing outreach and other enhanced initiatives tailored to this category of migrants. New or smaller programmes have also been expanding and have shown growth in number of returns. 2 REAB Annual Report 20

13 In response to the diversification of beneficiaries, increased attention to return measures by EUMSs, and recent trends as discussed above, a variety of activities have been implemented to enhance AVRR and tailored assistance, as well as advisory services on returns. The need for assisted return projects, whether general or tailored to meet specific requirements therefore grows stronger in response to the diversification of beneficiaries (increasing number of irregular migration/countries of return/vulnerable migrants/mixed migration phenomenon in the MENA region). Within the context of the EU, the challenge for EUMSs, international organizations, and other stakeholders in AVRR is to further develop projects that can address the issue of return migration not only from a national perspective, but also from multilateral and EU perspectives. The EU is the geographical area with the largest number of countries where IOM operates AVRR projects for migrants returning to their countries of origin; it is also the area with the largest number of projects in a single region. In 20, IOM operated 6 AVRR projects in 26 EUMSs, including Norway and Switzerland. The EU is where the concept of AVRR was first introduced by IOM more than three decades ago and where it has evolved into an indispensable part of different national migration management systems as well as the EU migration policy framework. The EU is seeking to harmonize and support national efforts to manage returns better and facilitate reintegration with the Return Directive (which lays down common standards and procedures for the return of noneu nationals who are staying in the EU irregularly), as well as with the European Return Fund. As mentioned above, in response to continuously changing migration patterns, programmes have diversified to take into account the following: Children (especially unaccompanied minors and other vulnerable migrants) have featured prominently in the last few calls, with the European Commission (EC) launching a study on the issue of return of minors, as well as elaboration of activities when it comes to reintegration assistance geared towards vulnerable groups. Reintegration strategies targeting specific countries of return and specific vulnerable groups are also gaining importance. Specific and tailored reintegration packages are being designed for families with children, unaccompanied and aged out minors, and other vulnerable categories of returnees. Mixed migration, which is very much linked to the EU and requires a versatile response tailored to the individual needs of migrants. IOM, in collaboration with its partners, is firmly engaged in such responses. Where voluntary return is opted for, there are measures that have been undertaken to facilitate reintegration in the home country and to enhance the sustainability of return. Increased encouragement of EUMSs to learn from one other, to organize study visits, and to nurture multilateral common projects within the EU. In 20, IOM continued to host the annual AVRR EU consultation with the latter taking place in Warsaw, Poland from the 4th to the 5th November, 20 under the patronage of the Polish UE Presidency. The conference was organized by IOM, Polish Border Guards, Ministry of Interior and Administration and Office for Foreigners. This meeting was an integral part of the project Increasing effectiveness Chapter : IOM approach on AVR and reintegration in Europe REAB Annual Report 20 3

14 of actions in the field of assisted voluntary returns cofunded by European Return Fund. The conference provided an opportunity to present and summarize current activities in the field of AVRR as well as to discuss further means of increasing the effectiveness of the AVRR programmes both at the national and the European levels. Representatives of all 27 EU countries, Switzerland and Norway as well as representatives of institutions involved in the implementation of reintegration assistance to returnees in the countries of origin were invited to participate in the conference. Belgium s participation was twofold. Fedasil Agency was represented as well as an IOM NGO partner (Protestants Sociaal Centrum Antwerpen PSCA). Both played an active role and presented the AVRR Belgian model from their respective perspectives. The turn out for this meeting was very successful with various interventions were presented addressing issues such as information provision, research and reintegration, vulnerable migrants etc. It also provided the opportunity of various stakeholders to network amongst themselves over issues related to AVRR..2. Voluntary Return European Network (VREN) One such programme that began implementation in 20 within the EU Return Fund Work Programme 200, in response to the diversification of needs, is the Voluntary Return European Network (VREN). The need for establishing an EUwide network on voluntary return that aims to improve cooperation among stakeholders in the field was suggested by the European Commission under the Return Fund Work Programme 200. A subsequent call for proposals resulted in the choice of the Voluntary Return European Network (VREN) implemented by IOM. The programme aims to facilitate exchanges among stakeholders in EUMSs, Switzerland, and Norway IOM on the voluntary return and reintegration of thirdcountry nationals to their countries or origin. Being a twoyear project with 6 other EUMSs, the VREN will set up a European network on voluntary return including the 27 EUMSs, Norway, and Switzerland, as well as major countries of transit and origin involved in voluntary return and reintegrationrelated activities Through its wide membership and use, VREN will become the key reference tool for information exchange and cooperation among all stakeholders in voluntary return in Europe. The EC has also acknowledged that a lot of different stakeholders are active in the field of voluntary return including national, regional, and local authorities; international organizations; and civil society and that it has a strong external component involving the same range of stakeholders in countries of return. Such an initiative by IOM has clearly highlighted its intention to address the call of the EC to further foster and facilitate communication, cooperation and information exchange between Member States and countries of transit and origin, highlighting the link between predeparture and reintegration assistance, as well as proposing sustainable and comprehensive AVRR programmes that will serve as the basis of the voluntary return approach of the authorities in EUMSs. 4 REAB Annual Report 20

15 IOM 2009 MCO0875 (Photo Diego Samora) Chapter : IOM approach on AVR and reintegration in Europe REAB Annual Report 20 5

16 IOM Cole Garside 2009 MGE006

17 Chapter 2 Overview Migration of Policy the Migration Belgian Policy Level at Belgian Level Chapter2 REAB Annual Report 20 7

18 Chapter 2. Overview of migration policy at the Belgian level 2.. Belgian legislative migration framework 2... Changes in the Belgian government After a recordbreaking 54 days of negotiations following the June 200 parliamentarian elections, a new coalition Belgian government was sworn in on 6 December 20, with Mr. Elio Di Rupo named Prime Minister. The Di Rupo I coalition includes socialists (sp.a/ PS), Christian democrats (CD&V/cdH), and liberals (Open Vld/MR) from the Dutch and French language groups. The negotiations aimed to put an end to the Belgian political crisis and resulted in a sixth State reform, including the partition of the electoral and judicial arrondissement of Brussels HalleVilvoorde and the transfer of new competencies from the federal to the regional level. Under the new legislature, migrationrelated issues will primarily be dealt with by the State Secretary for Asylum, Immigration and Social Integration, Mrs. Maggie De Block (VLD). Other Ministries and State Secretaries of particular importance for migrationrelated topics are: the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health under Mrs. Laurette Onkelinx; the Ministry of Justice under Mrs. Annemie Turtelboom; the Ministry of Public Enterprises, Scientific Policy and Development Cooperation under Mr. Paul Magnette; the Ministry of Interior under Mrs. Joelle Milquet; and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and European Affairs under Mr. Didier Reynders The Belgian Government Statement Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo presented the Government Statement on 7 December 20. The statement emphasizes a stricter but humane asylum policy and improved management of immigration policy. The agreement on migration and asylum was one of the last to be finalized due to considerable communitarian differences concerning the topic. The negotiators agreed on having one Minister coordinating all migration and asylum topics, and better cooperation among the different institutions dealing with migration and asylum, respectively Fedasil, the Immigration Office, and the Ministry of Interior. Among other things, the new asylum and migration policy will aim to shorten the time frame within which decisions are made on asylum claims, namely reducing the current 3month average to six months. The target response time will be just 5 days for claims from nationals of socalled safe countries, such as those within the EU. Municipalities which do not currently house asylumseekers will be required to do so under the agreement and will no longer be allowed to turn asylumseekers away by sending them to larger cities. The government will also put greater emphasis on return, with new facilities and measures to be put in place to ensure that rejected asylumseekers effectively leave Belgium voluntarily, if possible; enforced returns, if needed. Voluntary return is no longer to be a last resort and, to this end, asylumseekers are to obtain relevant information and be assisted in the decisionmaking process. To obtain Belgian nationality, persons will have to have been living in Belgium for more than five years, speak both French and Dutch, have a job, and prove as fact that they are wellintegrated. 8 REAB Annual Report 20

19 The Government Statement can be found at: State Secretary for Asylum, Immigration, Social Integration and Poverty Reduction Mrs. Maggie De Block On 6 December 20, Mrs. Maggie De Block (VLD) was appointed State Secretary for Asylum, Immigration, Social Integration and Poverty Reduction. She will work under the auspices of the Minister of Justice, which is under Mrs. Annemie Turtelboom Migration related facts at the Belgian level Asylum requests in 20 In 20, Belgium registered 25,479 asylum claims, which corresponds to a 27.8 per cent increase compared with 200. This represents an average of 2,23 asylum requests per month. The majority of asylumseekers came from Afghanistan (0.8%), Guinea (8.4%), Iraq (7.6%); the Russian Federation (6.4%), and UNSC resolution 244administered Kosovo 2 (5.7%). The Balkan countries, namely Kosovo/UNSC 244, Serbia, Macedonia, and Albania, remain prominently present in the list of top 0 countries from which asylum requests are received. In almost one out of four (23.5%) asylum requests, the Office of the Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons (CGRA/CGVS) decided that the asylumseeker was effectively in need of protection: 7 per cent of these decisions was in recognition of refugee status and 6.5 per cent of these decisions granted subsidiary protection status. Claims from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guinea make up more than half of the decisions in which protection status was granted in 20. In March 20, the Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons, Mr. Dirk Van den Bulck, raised some concerns. He said that governmental measures taken in 200 were not going to be sufficient to deal with the asylum situation. The measures had been based on an assumption of,500 new asylum claims per month; however, Mr. Van den Bulck stated that, since the beginning of 20, the average had been,800 new asylum claims per month, reaching a new high in March with 2,93 requests. Due to these high numbers, the backlog of untreated claims rose to 7,500 files, an increase of,500 since the end of 200. Despite staff increases under the Leterme government to deal with the asylum crisis in 200, Mr. Van Den Bulck highlighted that, while the CGRA/CGVS would be able to manage incoming files, it would not be able to work on the backlog. The increase in the number of asylum claims occurred simultaneously with a rise in the number of claims being lodged by nationals from Serbia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Kosovo/UNSC 244. As citizens of these countries are largely economic migrants, their chances of being granted asylum are very low. The CGRA/ CGVS, therefore, treats these files as a priority so that decisions are issued within two months and those who receive a negative response can leave the overcrowded reception network to make space for others. Chapter 2.: Overview of migration policy at the Belgian level CGRA/CGVS: (Dutch); (French) 2 Hereinafter referred to as Kosovo/UNSC 244. REAB Annual Report 20 9

20 The reception crisis anno 20 Extra spaces for asylumseekers were created in 200, raising the reception network s full capacity to 23,000 places, which Fedasil considered sufficient to deal with the caseload. Given the high number of new asylum claims, the reception network nevertheless struggled to provide adequate accommodation for all; as of December 20, 22,724 people were hosted within the reception network (including emergency or transit structures and hotels), representing a 97 per cent occupation rate. 3 Alluding to voluntary return or even possibly forced returns, Mr. Peter De Roo, the governmentappointed official to the Prime Minister looking at the reception of asylumseekers, argued that the solution to the crisis lay not in creating more accommodation places, but rather in better managing the inflows and outflows of asylumseekers Stricter reception law for asylumseekers reception network (except those from countries where there is no free transfer of employees, i.e. Bulgaria and Romania) and those with the means to provide for themselves. The amendments to the law, approved by parliament, aim to make the reception law stricter. Upon receiving a negative decision, failed asylumseekers will also be given an order to leave the territory and will have 30 days to enrol in a voluntary return programme. Beyond that period, return will be enforced. Moreover, EU citizens will no longer benefit from the Public Social Welfare Centre (Openbaar Centrum voor Maatschappelijk Welzijn OCMW; Centre Public d Action Sociale CPAS) support during the first three months following their arrival Circular of 0 June 20 concerning the responsibilities of mayors in the removal of thirdcountry nationals (Belgisch Staatsblad/Moniteur Belge 6 June 20) and the SEFOR (Sensibilization, Followup and Return) project In October 20, the parliament approved amendments to the law in order to better equip asylum institutions to deal with the asylum and reception crisis. The proposal 4 for these amendments was submitted by Mr. Bart Somers (VLD) in December 200. It included a suggestion to appoint a single minister responsible for all asylum and migration matters, as well as changes to the existing reception law, namely ceasing financial support for asylumseekers and providing only material assistance, and providing accommodation only to bona fide asylumseekers and not to those submitting multiple requests simply to prolong their stay in the country. It also proposed to stop accommodating EU citizens in the 3 Fedasil, 4 A circular was addressed to all mayors on 0 June 20 by the State Secretary for Migration and Asylum Policy at the time, Mr. Melchior Wathelet. It stressed the need for cooperation among relevant authorities in order to provide better information and followup on the return of thirdcountry nationals who are subject to removal from the Belgian territory. Article 7 emphasizes the existence of the voluntary return programme in Belgium, including the possibility for thirdcountry nationals who do not have sufficient resources to receive return assistance from IOM and if applicable reintegration assistance from either IOM or Caritas. The SEFOR project was put in place by the Immigration Office in order to closely monitor the effective return of migrants and to provide concerned communities and police forces with information sessions 20 REAB Annual Report 20

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