Arrival of Syrian Refugees in Belgium

On Thursday, 4 December 2014, 22 IOM-accompanied resettled Syrian refugees arrived in Belgium and were received by the Office of the Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons (CGVS) and the Belgian Federal Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (FEDASIL). The CGVS is responsible for the selection and screening of refugees, while FEDASIL takes care of their reception and the accompaniment of refugees resettled to Belgium (e.g., pre-departure preparation, initial reception, etc… )

This group is the first of 75 Syrians to be resettled from Turkey to Belgium under its 2014 resettlement programme, which will resettle 100 persons in total. The remaining places (25) have been pledged for Congolese refugees from the Great Lakes region.

The Syrian refugees were selected by the CGVS during a mission in September of this year based on dossiers prepared by the UNHCR. The final list consisted of 16 families and 4 single persons. Prior to their departure, a cultural orientation mission led by FEDASIL took place in Turkey to prepare them for their arrival, and to provide them with an accurate portrayal of life in Belgium. Following their arrival, the resettled refugees will spend approximately 6 weeks in a FEDASIL reception center to receive further support and cultural orientation, before moving to their new communities where they will be supported by the local authorities and civil society organizations.

Belgium launched its first regular resettlement programme in 2013 to receive 100 refugees from the Great Lakes Region. Its 2014 quota is reflective of Belgium’s contribution to UNHCR’s call for 130,000 places to be made available for refugees from Syria from 2013-2016. Further to this effort, in late November 2014, the recently appointed State Secretary for Asylum and Migration, Mr. Theo Francken, announced that Belgium would, for one time, increase its quota for resettlement to 300 places in 2015 from an initial quota of 150 persons. Of this, 225 places are designated for refugees from Syria.