The European Court of Human Rights has issued an injunction against Belgian authorities ordering them to provide immediate accommodation for 148 asylum seekers.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg on Tuesday (November 15) ordered the Belgian asylum agency Fedasil to provide accommodation to 148 asylum seekers left homeless because reception centers in the country are full.
The men, who are of various nationalities, had applied to a court in Brussels, saying they were at risk of "severe and irreversible damage to human dignity." That court served orders on Fedasil to house the men at a reception center, in a hotel or any other suitable facility. When no action was taken, the men asked the European human rights court to intervene.
Last month the ECtHR applied a so-called interim measure in a similar case brought by an asylum seeker from Guinea, Abdoulaye Camara. He had arrived in Belgium in mid-July and applied for asylum, but was not assigned a place in a reception facility and was forced to live on the streets.
Applying to the ECtHR for an injunction, Camara cited cold, hunger and health problems. He referred to the scabies epidemic among asylum seekers who were forced to sleep in the streets, which was worsening as a result of poor sanitation. He asked the Court to uphold his right to humane treatment, a fair trial and privacy.
Belgium is among many European countries struggling to provide adequate accommodation to house refugees. The reception network run by Fedasil had more than 31,000 reception places in almost 90 centers across Belgium. In August, a new center was set up at a former army barracks in the town of Berlaar, which is intended to provide places for 750 asylum seekers, mainly single men.
Due to the shortage of places, priority has been given to families, unaccompanied minors and other vulnerable people, leaving large numbers of single men camping in the city streets.
Migrant rights activists have blamed Belgian authorities for the crisis. A Belgian court in June also ruled that state authorities were systematically violating asylum seekers' right to reception.