Asylum seekers temporarily housed in tents
(JB) The number of refugees seeking asylum in Luxembourg rocketed this summer, forcing authorities to temporarily house applicants on campsites.
According to immigration minister Christiane Martin, an influx at the beginning of August and a lack of accommodation for asylum seekers means that some 30 men were housed under canvas for a number of days before being found more stable accommodation.
Half of that number were housed in a larger 15-man tent provided by the Luxembourg Red Cross. The remainder were given smaller tents.
The rest of the 60-strong contingency were housed in Luxembourg City's Don Bosco, a hostel providing accommodation for new arrivals for up to six weeks. The site, which has a capacity to sleep up to 150 people, is already exceeding that number, with recent occupancy rates rising to 200 people.
The minister said that the authority had no other choice but to house some of the applicants in tents because of the lack of accommodation available in the Grand Duchy for asylum seekers when they first arrive. The administration made an appeal earlier this year to communes to provide places for applicants.
Thusfar some nine hotels have responded to the appeal, including the four star Hôtel André in Bollendorf-Pont. They are among 33 sites available in the country.
Since the beginning of the year the Grand Duchy received 1,090 applications for asylum. Mrs Martin said: “Normally, we would receive around 500 to 600 applications per year. But, since the beginning of the year, we've had 1090.”
The minister highlights that not all applicants will be successful. Applicants from Serbia and Macedonia are likely to be repatriated, following announcements earlier this year to this effect. In general, applicants should not have long to wait however, since a new initiative was introduced in May aimed at ensuring applications are processed within as little as three months.
A further incentive announced in Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker's state of the nation speech, offering 250 euros to each applicant who returns home voluntarily within the first three months (plus 100 euros per child), has already proved popular. This year some 100 people have taken this option.
If the growth in applications continues, the country may face similar problems this winter to Belgium. The country reported large numbers of deaths of refugees and asylum seekers who were sleeping rough due to extreme temperatures last year.
The situation became so critical Belgian officials were forced to open make-shift housing in areas including Bastogne's former military base, despite opposition from local residents.