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July 15, 2023

Belgium Makes It Harder for the Nationals of 8 Third-Countries

Nationals of eight third countries, including here five Western Balkan countries, will have to present stronger and clear proof that their home country is not safe specifically for them, in order to be able to gain international protection in Belgium in the future.

On July 10, Belgium’s Official Journal has published a reviewed list of non-European Union countries deemed as safe countries of origin, consisting of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republic of North Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia, India and Georgia, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

According to the country’s Office of the Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons (CGRS), listing a country of origin as safe can have some specific consequences for the procedure that applicants for international protection have to go through at this office and for the appeal procedure at the Council for Alien Law Litigation.

A country of origin can be considered as safe if there is generally and consistently no persecution or risk of suffering serious harm. In order to determine if a country is safe, the legal situation, the application of the law and the general political conditions in the country are taken into account,” it points out in a statement.

The decision on the new list was taken as early as on April 7, but was published on the Official Journal only last Monday. The list is reviewed every year, and these same countries have been on it since 2020.

According to the European Migration Network, over 100,000 people applied for protection in Belgium last year alone, over 63,000 of which were Ukrainians with temporary protection status.

Another over 36,000 people applied for international protection, which is 7,000 less than in 2015, yet an increase compared to the other recent years. In the same year, 2022, 32,141 were first-time applications, 4,652 subsequent applications and there were also another 71 persons who arrived in Belgium through resettlement.

While 3,853 persons claimed they were unaccompanied minors at the time of their application for international protection, upon examination by the Guardianship Service, only 2,272 were effectively identified as unaccompanied minors. 93.8 per cent of them were boys, and the vast majority were Afghan nationals

The main countries of origin for applicants for international protection in Belgium remain Afghanistan, Syria, Palestine, Burundi and Eritrea.

>> Ukrainian Immigrants & Aging Population Heavily Impact Belgium’s Population Rates in 2022