News from the detention centers in Belgium – June 18, 2021

Groups picture 127 bis 2017

News from the detention centers in Belgium – June 18, 2021

The detention centers’ capacity is gradually rising with the relaxing of anti-coronavirus measures. Repatriations remain extremely difficult due to COVID-19 “safety” rules from most countries and airlines and because of the resistance of the detainees inside the centers.

The average length of detention is currently particularly high (it can go up to one year!) due to the difficulty to repatriate to most countries. Indeed, a lot of countries and some airlines demand a negative COVID-19 test. Many detainees refuse to undergo these tests to avoid being deported and the Immigration Office keeps them in detention. Proposals of vaccination have been made in some centers but the detainees have refused because for them, it means deportation. 
The Immigration Office has invented a brand new, sickening trick : Detainees are asked to undergo a COVID-19 test and made to believe it is to prevent a potential appearance or evolution of the disease or to prepare them for a transfer to another center. When the test is undergone, the Office books a deportation plane ticket in the two following days.


In Bruges, around 60 detainees (for a capacity of 112). Among them, 12 Vietnamese people have been arrested at the Belgian coast while they were trying to make it to the UK.

In Merksplas, around 30 detainees (for a capacity of 146). Among them, a dozen of people from Tunisia held in detention, in some cases since 8 months. The detainees show solidarity and are supportive of one another. A man was nearly deported after 8 months of detention but resisted and was transferred to the center of Vottem.

In Vottem, fewer detainees since a coronavirus epidemic.

In 127bis, three wings are open for a total of +/- 50 people (for a capacity of 120).

In Holsbeek : very few contacts despite a surprise visit from activists

It seemed that on June 3, 2021, some detainees were tested positive to COVID-19.

In Caricole, people get in and out quite quickly it seems : people are arrested at the airport, isolated for ten days and then pushed back to the country of departure if they do not ask for asylum.

URGENT CALL for psychological help for the detainees :    

Some detainees suffer from serious psychological, sometimes psychiatric pain following a rough journey and being in detention for so long, without the hope of getting out. The medical staff doesn’t seem to care despite visits from independent doctors who testify of this suffering. One detainee has been moved to a psychiatric institution. We call for psychologists and psychiatrists to go and give psychological support in the centers.

People inside the centers :

The Office makes the decisions regarding who is placed in detention. Presently many of the detainees have been transferred from prison to a center (“double peine”), some have been arrested at the airport and are currently seeking asylum, others have been arrested in the street without their papers. The nationalities that seem to be in the most targeted ones at the moment are : Tunisian, Afghan and Guinean. People from Eastern Europe also seem to be very quickly deported. 
Some detainees have told us about proposals from social workers of “voluntary return” (or “voluntary repatriation”). The detainees understand these attempts as “blackmail”. This seems to fit in the objectives of the Belgian State Secretary for Asylum and Migration, Sammy Mahdi.(“Outreach Team” created by Mahdi  (article in French) :

“Even if I would be dead, it would be better, I would be in peace”
“Either I kill myself or I kill someone else in here!”
“I’m okay to stay in the center several years until I get my papers but not go back in my country where I’ll get killed !”
“Every month they tell me ‘one more month’, ‘one more month, when will I get out of here ? They try to kill you mentally little by little”
“Its Merdeplas*, not Merksplas”
Following the liberation of one of his comrades, one detainee tells us : “While there’s life, there’s hope”
Another detainee tells us he is “scared to go crazy”
(*Merdeplas = Shitplas)

  • NOBODY has a place in these closed centres, it only adds suffering and humiliation to an already chaotic journeyLet’s support the undocumented migrants and fight against these actions of a racist and excluding state
  • The Earth belongs to everyone.
  • Freedom of movement and settlement for all


Twoo separate calls:

PHONE RECHARGES  needed for the retainees in closed centres

We receive loads of requests for phone recharges from people retained in closed centres. Very often, their phone is the only way to contact the outside, be it their family, friends, lawyer, or to publicly inform on their situation.
Whether their arrest took place on their migratory journey, in their home, whether their families and friends are here or in their home country, it is crucial for them to be able to warn and communicate with them. Without your support, they would be many incapable of doing so.

You may support these detainees by buying a 10 euros Lycamobile recharge from your grocery, night shop or bookshop. Send us the pin code written on the recharge by email at or by SMS on 0032(0)484026781. We will then send the code to the detainees who asked for it. If it is easier for you, you may also pay, or even better set up a standing order of 5, 10, 20 euros or more on the bank account especially created for that purpose :

Collectif Contre Les Expulsions
Banque Triodos BE58 5230 8016 1279 BIC: TRIOBEBB
Communication: Lyca

Spread the message around you! Thank you!

SUPPORT THE FIGHTS against closed centres and borders

The fights against closed centres, deportations and borders (distribution of leaflets, posting, publications, events, logistics, various actions, prevention of repression) require energy as well as financial resources.
Interested in supporting us financially? Donate, or even better, set up a standing order to :

Collectif Contre Les Expulsions
Banque Triodos: BE 13 523045586439
Communication: Soutien aux luttes

Spread the message around you! Thank you!

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