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Death at Schaarbeek asylum seeker squat

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Bart Dewaele

Death at Schaarbeek asylum seeker squat

Somebody died last night in the asylum
seeker squat that is being cleared in the Paleizenstraat in Schaarbeek
(Brussels). A pathologist has attended the scene. Prosecutors are yet to
comment on the exact circumstances of the death.

Hundreds of asylum seekers and homeless
people had taken up residence in the building after the Belgian authorities failed
to comply with their legal requirement to offer registered asylum seekers
accommodation.  In recent days the
authorities started the process of offering all registered asylum seekers in
the property accommodation at reception centres and the authorities were initially
planning to seal the property by yesterday. Chaotic events yesterday prevented
this from happening.

Early this morning fire-fighters were
called to the squat after blankets caught fire. 
The death is not being linked to this incident.

The property is being cleared in the course
of today.  As a result of the fire
remaining asylum seekers ended up outside on the pavement, but many had left
their belongings inside. 

“There is enormous desperation among
remaining residents” says VRT’s Marjan Temmerman.  “They are all in the street”.

Clearing the property proceeded in utter
chaos yesterday.  The intention was to
ferry 250 residents to a temporary reception location, but other people also
eager to get accommodation mixed with the crowd.  Social workers at the scene speak of a “disastrous
operation”, “misleading communication to the media” and a “total lack of
communication to residents”.

In the end some 300 people stayed at the
property overnight. This morning a group of residents headed for the Crossing
football club in Schaarbeek where the medical screening ahead of allocation of accommodation
occurs, but they were sent back and told to await the bus.

Writing on Twitter Belgian asylum secretary
De Moor says “it’s dreadful that somebody has died at the Paleizenstraat squat.  I am following the case to ascertain what
happened.”

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