Resettlement process

Selection of the refugees

Firstly, the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) preselects the cases. Secondly, selection missions are organised by the CGRS (Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons), followed by cultural orientation missions conducted by Fedasil (Federal Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers). The refugees are selected according to the criteria in the Geneva Convention.

Travel

The IOM (International Organisation for Migration) organises the travel arrangements. Assisted by the FPS Foreign Affairs and the Belgian Embassies, the IOM helps providing the necessary authorisations to leave the country. The IOM also reserves national and international flights, accompanies the refugees on departure and provides assistance in transit and on arrival, including helping with immigration and customs formalities.

Formal asylum application in Belgium

On arrival in Belgium, the refugees submit an asylum application with the Foreigners' Office. This step is purely a formality given that their case is already known and has already received a positive opinion from the CGRS. Thus, the refugees are quickly granted a clear status. 

First reception

The first reception is managed by Fedasil, which allocates the refugees a place in the Federal reception centres of Sint-Truiden or Pondrôme.

While they are at the centre, the administrative affairs for the refugees are put in order (refugee statements and certificates of registration on the Aliens' register). The stay at the centre also gives the refugees direct and fast access to specialised social and medical services. Furthermore, every centre prepares a basic integration programme for these refugees.

Integration in the municipalities

After an expected duration of 6 to 7 weeks, the refugees leave the reception centres and settle in private housing. The integration support started in the centres continues through:

  • an early offer of suitable housing;
  • settlement support;
  • integration support within existing support services for newly arrived asylum seekers and general support with integration procedures;
  • continued social assistance for minimum 12 months.

The ultimate aim of this support is for the refugees to function autonomously in Belgian society.

This support is provided by the NGOs Caritas and Convivial, which in recent years, have gained experience in supporting resettled refugees. Since 2013, in the interests of encouraging refugees to put down local roots and to involve local stakeholders earlier in the process, the Public Social Welfare Centres are asked to become involved in the resettlement programme voluntarily through a call to Public Social Welfare Centres.