News ID: 112117
Publish Date : 05 February 2023 - 21:42

EU Migration Impasse Leaves Many Refugees Out in Cold

BRUSSELS (AP/Arab News) – Some refugees and asylum-seekers in Brussels have been spending months in between the Street of Palaces and the Small Castle — quite literally.
Unfortunately, it’s not a dream come true at the end of their fearful flight from halfway across the globe. It’s a perpetual nightmare.
Petit Chateau, which means small castle, is a government reception center that often does anything but welcome arrivals. The Rue des Palais — street of palaces — has the city’s worst squat, where the smell of urine and the prevalence of scurvy have come to symbolize how the European Union’s migration policy is failing.
They are only 2½ miles (four kilometers) from the sleek Europa Building where EU leaders will hold a two-day summit starting Thursday to deal with migration issues.
Shinwari, an Afghan army captain who long helped Western powers try to stave off the Taliban, now lives in a makeshift tent camp right on the canal opposite Petit Chateau.
It’s a place as desolate as it is hopeless.
“It is very cold. Some guys have different diseases and many of us are suffering from depression, because we don’t know what will happen tomorrow,” said the 31-year-old, who left behind his wife and four children, convinced that Taliban forces that took over in August 2021 would kill soldiers like him who worked with NATO countries.
“They search houses. No one’s life was safe,” Shinwari said. ”They have already once told my family ‘your son has taken refuge in an infidel country.’”
Even now, far from home, he’s too scared to be identified beyond his last name and with only the vaguest military details. He doesn’t want his face shown in photos or video, for fear the Taliban might hurt his family.
With 330,000 unauthorized attempts made to enter the EU last year — a six-year record — projecting a warm embrace for refugees doesn’t win many elections on the continent these days.
Meanwhile, an investigation has found that a migrant processing center in England has seen people restrained to stop them from self-harming and fights break out over food.
Liberty Investigates used freedom of information requests to look into conditions at the facility in Manston, a former military barracks, finding it housed almost 4,000 people in October 2022.
The Independent newspaper reported that Liberty found people had been locked in vans, pinned to the ground and beaten, and forcibly restrained after asking for more food, and that thousands had been forced to sleep in a makeshift marquee due to overcrowding.
In one incident, recorded by immigration officers and facility staff whenever force was used, a man was elbowed and had his legs restrained after he and several others began banging their heads on walls.