BRUSSELS (Brussels Morning) – The new registration centre for Ukrainian refugees opened in Hall 8 of Brussels Expo on Monday. That didn’t go smoothly right away. In the evening, Mayor Close decided that from tomorrow employees of the volunteer organisation ‘Solidarity for Ukraine’ will no longer be welcome on the site.
From Monday morning, Ukrainian refugees were allowed to register for registration in Hall 8, at Brussels Expo. To process the large amount of requests, 42 counters were installed, a total of 230 employees. It was striking, just like last week with Jules Bordet, it was mainly volunteers who helped people to ease the waiting and queue as much as possible.
Erik Van Wolvelaer of the volunteer organisation ‘Solidarity for Ukraine’ was there all day with water and coffee cakes, but in the afternoon he was admonished to leave the site and not to come back for the next few days. “We were sent away by the police. Philippe Close (PS), the mayor of Brussels, does not want Maximilian Park 2.0 and so we have to leave the site. From now on we are no longer allowed to offer food and drinks,” said Van Wolvelaer.
The spokeswoman for Close, Carole Poncin, added that this measure was in place to make the flow of people smoother from tomorrow. “Today there was too much chaos in the park in front of Palace 8. We are not sending volunteers home. They are still welcome, but on the public road.”
On Monday morning, when the centre opened, only one mobile toilet cubicle was available. The high school Regina Pacis, across the street from Hall 8, therefore opened its doors because otherwise there was a threat of total chaos.
“Our first day is also our trial day,” repeats Sammy Madhi (CD&V), State Secretary for Asylum and Migration. “Capacity is being worked on, everything in IT and humanitarian facilities is improving by the second. For example, extra toilets have just been delivered.”
On Monday, the Immigration Department aimed for 900 registrations. “The intention is to expand the 42 counters we currently have to 60. This should enable us to process 5000 applications per day,” explains Pieter-Jan Van Bosstraeten of the Immigration Department.
“We work with straps, which each applicant receives at the entrance of the hangar. People with a grey belt are still registered today. A green band means that they also need shelter. They are helped in the last zone by Fedasil. Red bands may also be distributed to those in need of emergency medical care. The Red Cross is also present for this.”
In principle, the centre remains open every day until 7.30 pm. “It is quite possible that 100 more people will need to be helped once the doors are closed. For the employees here, the day does not necessarily end at 7.30 pm,” says Van Bosstraeten.
Image via BRUZZ