Palestinian refugees rally outside of asylum seeker reception centers in Belgium.
Gazan asylum seekers in Belgium have launched a protest movement to decry what they dubbed as the “unfair treatment” by the Belgian authorities processing their asylum requests, Haaretz daily has reported.
The Palestinian Refugees Movement/Belgium held a number of marches over recent weeks in asylum seeker reception centers across the country.
Marches and daylong ‘hunger strikes’ have been staged to protest “injustices” over how asylum applications are allegedly now being handled by Belgian authorities.
Haaretz reported that Belgium is now Europe's most popular destination for Gazans fleeing the coastal enclave, which has been under a crippling Israeli siege since 2013. The blockade has brought about poverty and unemployment rates that affected nearly 75% of the besieged population in the enclave.
“The situation in Gaza is still precarious and problematic for many inhabitants but not for all”, the Office of the Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons in Belgium said.
According to official figures by the Commissioner-General’s office, the Palestinians make the second largest group of new asylum seekers in the first nine months of 2019, with over 1,980 applications for international protection filed in September.
However, according to the same report, only about 30 percent of the applications processed during those nine months were successful, making Palestinians only the 10th largest national group to successfully obtain asylum.
Haaretz quoted Palestinian refugee Ali Mansour, who reached Belgium in 2016 after a long and arduous trip from AlBureij refugee camp, east of Gaza, as denouncing the increasing rejections by the Belgium authorities of asylum applications.
Mansour added that delays in asylum procedures has had negative psychological upshots on Palestinian young men in Belgium.
“He added: “It's so many of us, and the positive responses are so few”.
More than 50 years of occupation and 13 years of blockade have made the lives of 2 million Palestinians living inside the Gaza Strip unbearable and turned the enclave into the world’s largest open-air prison.