Belgium Faces Rising Number of Third-Country Refugees Coming From Ukraine

Belgian authorities are recording an increasing number of non-Ukrainian nationals arriving from the territory of Ukraine, who are not allowed to stay, State Secretary for Asylum and Migration Sammy Mahdi said on Friday.

"Third-country nationals, arriving from the Ukrainian territory and having an opportunity to return to their countries of origin, cannot enjoy the right of temporary protection and asylum at the Belgian territory," Mahdi was quoted as saying by Metro new agency.

In March, Belgium received nearly 3,500 asylum applications from third-country nationals who had arrived from Ukrainian territory, Mahdi said. He added that the number of Russian refugees coming from Ukraine and seeking asylum in Belgium was 86 in March alone, while throughout whole of 2021, only 300 asylum applications from Russians were received.

Since the crisis broke out, Belgian refugee registration centres have granted asylum to 98% of Ukrainian refugees, while the other 2% obtained temporary protection as nationals of countries recognized as "international partners of Ukraine," he added.

Several EU member states are granting asylum to all refugees arriving from Ukraine regardless of citizenship, yet Belgium believes that all third-country nationals who can safely return to their home countries, should leave Belgium, Mahdi said.

Meanwhile, DH newspaper reported earlier that since 24 February, Belgium has received about 30,000 Ukrainian refugees, with the majority not registered, and therefore lacking state support. At least three quarters of the refugees were hosted by ordinary families without financial and social assistance from the Belgian government.

The European Union previously introduced a mechanism for granting temporary protection to Ukrainians, effective for one year. Temporary protection status provides a residence permit, access to the labour market and housing, medical assistance, as well as access to education and means of subsistence. The duration of stay in the EU may be extended for up to three years.

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