History

Previous Belgian resettlement initiatives

Since the Second World War, Belgium has resettled over 10,000 people. The largest and most recent groups to have benefited from these initiatives are:

  • 1956-1957: 6,000 Hungarians who had fled after the suppression of the rebellion were given a new home in Belgium.
  • In 1972, 400 Asians who escaped Idi Amin's Uganda benefited from resettlement in Belgium.
  • In 1973, 1,100 Chileans fleeing Pinochet's regime of terror were resettled in Belgium.
  • In 1975, 2,500 boat people from Vietnam and Cambodia were given the opportunity to start a new life in Belgium.
  • In 1992, Belgium became home to 200 Bosnians and subsequently children, the injured and their family members originally from Bosnia.
  • In 1999, during the war in Kosovo, 1,200 Kosovars were able to settle in Belgium. This Belgian initiative was part of a European framework to coordinate the reception efforts by Member States.
  • In 2009, following the European call for the resettlement of Iraqi refugees, the Belgian Council of Ministers gave its agreement for the resettlement of 47 Iraqi refugees in Belgium. The group comprised single women with children and Iraqi Palestinians.
  • In 2011, during the conflict in Libya, 25 people of Eritrean and Congolese origin (families and single women) who were refugees in Tunisia benefited from the resettlement programme in Belgium.

Learning from its neighbours

In recent years, the Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons (CGRS) and the Federal Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (Fedasil) have become experts in the field of resettlement due to their respective mandates.

In December 2007, officials from the CGRS and Fedasil participated as observers in a resettlement selection mission conducted by the Netherlands in Thailand. This mission enabled them to monitor all the steps in the Dutch resettlement programme (from selection to integration into society). In September 2008, the CGRS was again involved as an observer in a mission in Tanzania during which the United Kingdom and Ireland jointly selected refugees to be resettled.

The Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons himself, Dirk Van den Bulck, accompanied the Dutch State Secretary Nebahat Albayrak in a selection mission to Thailand in April 2008. Likewise, in February 2009, at the invitation of the Dutch Minister of Justice, Hirsch Ballin, the former Minister of Migration and Asylum Policy, Annemie Turtelboom, and Dirk Van den Bulck attended a resettlement mission conducted by the Netherlands in Kenya.

Furthermore, the CGRS also took part in a study visit with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Beirut, Lebanon in May 2011. This office is the coordination point for resettlement in the Middle East and North Africa.

As part of the ENARO (European Network of Asylum Reception Organisations) network, Fedasil has also had the opportunity to follow closely all the reception and integration aspects of the Irish resettlement programme.